LIFE: A PARADOX CONUNDRUM (10)

Life is full of paradoxes that some say require balancing; however accepting an appropriate location on the paradox continuum, when dealing with the paradox conundrum, may be as good as it gets! An example of such a paradox follows:

  • One plus One Equals Two
  • One plus One Greater than Two

We all know from our early days in math class that the correct answer to the math problem – one plus one – is two. However we all learn, some faster than others, that when it comes to dealing with more complex problems the power of collaborating with other people can transform one plus one to greater than two. This can be as simple as collaborating with a friend in the sand-box to build a more sophisticated sand castle; or it can be as complex as working on a multinational team which is trying to develop a new drug for cancer, or trying to land humans on Mars.

This collaboration with other people however is not quite as simple as dealing with mathematics because it involves dealing with different people i.e. different personalities, different values, and different ways of behaving. There are many books and articles delineating the pros and cons of teams, e.g. Patrick Lencioni in his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, outlines five factors that  hold a team back: absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and inattention to results; J.R. Hackman in his book, Leading Teams, sets out five basic conditions that must be fulfilled in order to create and maintain effective teams: they must be real, they need a compelling direction, they need enabling structures, they need a supportive organization and they need expert coaching.

Notwithstanding some of the challenges of teams, and the sensitivity of certain Egos,  it is abundantly clear that no matter how smart we are, or think we are, much more can potentially be accomplished by combining our talents with the talents of other people. When we do this effectively, one plus one will be greater than two and can tend to infinity if the people dynamics are optimized.

  • Teamwork leads to Optimal Outcomes      

LIFE: A PARADOX CONUNDRUM (9)

Life is full of paradoxes that some say require balancing; however accepting an appropriate location on the paradox continuum, when dealing with the paradox conundrum, may be as good as it gets! An example of such a paradox follows:

  • Practice makes Perfect
  • Practice does not make Perfect

We all want to be successful in life whether it is academically, sports, the arts, other activities, or in our careers. There have been a number of books and articles in recent years indicating that to be world-class in anything then approximately 10,000 of practice is necessary. As an example, the winners at the recent Winter Olympics are likely to have practiced for 10,000 hours minimum (if one assumed that they started at age 6 and they now are 21, then this is 667 hours of practice per year, which is almost 2 hours per day, 365 days per year for the last 15 years). The secret behind this though, in academics, sport, music and such like, is that the practice needs to be structured such that constant improvement is achieved. This is not achieved by simple going through the motions, rather it is best achieved by constantly pushing oneself such that the practice is both challenging and, at the same time, achievable with effort and commitment. Similarly at work, many people say that they have 15 years of experience but in reality they have 1 year of experience repeated 15 times i.e. they have remained in their comfort zone, and not pushed themselves to learn new skills, take on new tasks that are both challenging and, at the same time, achievable with effort and commitment. Therefore, approach each new day as an opportunity to grow and develop, and whatever it is that you aspire to improve in: academic grades, career, golf, gymnastics, baseball, art, music, football, curling – remember to:

  • Make sure you Practice Correctly

LIFE: A PARADOX CONUNDRUM (8)

Life is full of paradoxes that some say require balancing; however accepting an appropriate location on the paradox continuum, when dealing with the paradox conundrum, may be as good as it gets! An example of such a paradox follows:

  • Speaking in Public is Easy
  • Public Speaking is Difficult

Speaking in Public is easy for everyone other than mutes. We start speaking at age two or so and we speak in public every day; either in our mother tongue, or in a second language. In contrast though, Public Speaking is always listed as one of people’s greatest concerns. This may be related to: Fear, Incompetence or some combination thereof.

Public speaking can take different forms: ad-hoc oral – when you meet your boss in the car park and he/she asks you how your projects are doing; formal oral – when you have to give an oral update at a staff meeting and you know this ahead of time; or when you have to deliver a formal power-point presentation.

There are a number of myths surrounding being a good Public Speaker, and I won’t even mention, “Kissing the Blarney Stone”:

  1. They are born with a gift of public speaking
  2. They do not have fears/get nervous
  3. They rely on data versus how data are presented
  4. They do not have to prepare/practice.

These are indeed myths, and the real key to effective Public Speaking is to understand that it is a skill which, like all skills, can be learned. An effective learning approach will go a long way to move you along this paradox continuum, such that speaking in public is easy whether you’re just chatting with family or friends, or whether you’re delivering a presentation to 5, 500, 5000 or 50,000 people.

  • Public Speaking is a Learned Skill – Join Toastmasters or Similar Organization

View Toastmaster International:

http://www.toastmasters.org/

View Purchase Product Page for Professional Development material on this topic:Public Speaking Improvement Toolkit: 

https://www.icoachandspeak.com/#!/Purchase

 

ACHIEVEMENT

Are You Maximizing Your Achievement in Life?

 In life there are many pleasures, and it is important to maximize these opportunities. Paradoxically though, the journey through life can be challenging at times. To achieve in life (personal and/or professional), it is necessary to overcome the challenges that occur i.e. take the road less traveled. Interestingly, it is through overcoming these challenges that a true sense of purpose is forged. This combination of pleasure and sense of purpose results in a journey of happiness (Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar) and in a lifetime of satisfying achievements.

            Do You have a Life Navigator for the Road Less Traveled?

A Navigator does exist: VSAM (Vision, Strategy, Achievement Mindset), which charts life’s journey towards happiness and a lifetime of satisfying achievements.

Vision: To prepare for life journeys, it is critically important to have a number of discrete Visions i.e. know where you are going. An important consideration when establishing these Visions is that they tie in with your natural values: competitive, achievement, social, aesthetic, health, fun, order, spirituality, tolerance, virtue, wealth…This ensures that one spends as much time as possible engaged in activities that bring immediate pleasure as well as future benefit. Examples of Visions include:

 Self: Lead a Healthy Lifestyle…

Family: Be part of a Loving Family…

Society:  Have a Career that brings you Success and Happiness …

 Strategy: To move forward on life journeys and execute the Visions, it is necessary, in addition to your natural talents, to have Strategies i.e. competitive game plans, with associated challenging and specific goals. Once again, the more aligned these goals are with your values; the more likely you are to experience immediate pleasure as well as future benefit.

 1. Development of Competitive Knowledge and Skills

a.        Professional: formal education, skill training programs (leadership, management, communication), other.

b.       Mental: emotional intelligence, social intelligence, focus, staying in present, visualization, optimizing excitement/anxiety (zone of optimal performance), other.

c.        Physical: fitness training, flexibility training, other.

d.       Other: nutrition awareness, other

 2. Discipline to Overcome Challenges/Obstacles (Adapted from: The Road Less Traveled by M Scott Peck)

 a.        Delay of Gratification.

This is the process of sequencing pain (challenges/obstacles) and pleasure so that the pain is dealt with first and pleasure follows e.g. studying hard through college resulting in solid qualifications and excellent career opportunities versus too much partying in bars, or exercising 5-7 times weekly and allowing yourself a treat once the exercise target has been completed.

b.       Acceptance of Responsibility.

Our Achilles Heels, and everyone has some, can only be improved upon/solved once we accept responsibility for them e.g. inadequate people skills/lack of empathy for a manager of people can only be solved after the person accepts that there is a problem and becomes willing to work on it.

c.        Dedication to Truth.

Accepting the truth can at times be hard: your eating habits and lack of exercise habits are preventing you from achieving a healthy lifestyle; your behavior at work is preventing you from gaining a promotion. Nonetheless, accepting the truth is necessary to allow for growth and development.

 d.      Balancing

Life is full of paradoxes that require balancing e.g. committing oneself to the pursuit of perfection even though perfection is impossible, having the self-confidence necessary to succeed whilst balancing this with humility, being confident but not overconfident, being eager but patient, being trustful but checking ahead of time nonetheless.

3.Management of Behavior

Knowledge, Skills and Discipline can be significantly undermined through inappropriate Behaviors. However, behavior is something that can be managed and changed. To be aware and to be able to manage/change behavior is important in life. One method of becoming aware of your professional behavioral style is through behavioral assessments e.g.  TTI (Target Training International) Inc. which will identify behavioral style across four dimensions: Dominance, Influencing, Steadiness, and Compliance. This awareness then provides an opportunity to manage/change behaviors as appropriate. In Marshal Goldsmith’s book ‘ What Got You Here Will Not Get You There’ , he articulated the critical importance of behaviors in work success and how some in particular are problematic ( speaking when angry, failing to give recognition…).From a personal behavioral perspective, behavioral identification, and subsequent modification, in terms of eating and exercise habits – driven by specific and challenging goals- can lead to a healthier lifestyle.

 Achievement Mindset: To achieve on life journeys, an Achievement Mindset is needed.  Such a mindset is comprised of: Belief, Persistence and Kenosis/Continual Learning.

1.        Belief

People with strong beliefs achieve more, as has been demonstrated in psychological studies (Rosenthal & Rubin, 1978; Harris & Rosenthal, 1985). This is likely a result of these people setting specific and challenging goals, pursuing them relentlessly, and trusting in their capabilities rather than through any magical power.

2.        Persistence

People who practice persistence don’t allow uncertainty or setbacks to get in the way of achieving their Visions. It is this continual moving forward in the face of adversity that ultimately leads to success i.e. in life when the going gets tough the tough get going.

3.        Kenosis/Continual Learning

People who practice Kenosis, which is getting yourself out of your own way to allow for continued learning and growth, achieve much more in life because they refuse to be controlled by their ego, and continually open themselves up to new learning opportunities e.g. it is important to be able to let go of old beliefs, old habits, fear, anger and such like. In the case of anger for example: in life it is important to control this angry and forgive yourself after making a mistake, focusing on what you can do differently going forward. It is important to open yourself up to what you can later learn from these experiences.

 VSAM:Visions, Strategies, Achievement Mindset (adapted from Psychological Foundations of Success by Stephen Kraus) – three critical companions on the journey through life.  Along this journey though, there will be numerous hazards to be confronted and dealt with. Reinhold Niebuhr recommended the following prayer to help in Life: “Lord, grant me the courage to change the things I can, the serenity to accept the things I can’t, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Lao-tzu said that, “All journeys begin with a first step”, and Mary Oliver, in her poem The Journey, urges all of us to take that first step: “One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice…” One first step that you could take for happiness and achievement in your life’s journey, i.e. Take the Road Less Traveled, is to work on your VSAM.

  • Clarify your Visions
  • Establish Stretch but Realistic Strategies (with associated specific and challenging goals)
  • Strengthen your Achievement Mindset

Don’t Wait: Take Your First Step Today!

COPYRIGHT© 2012 by James Boyd

LIFE: A PARADOX CONUNDRUM (7)

Life is full of paradoxes that some say require balancing; however accepting an appropriate location on the paradox continuum, when dealing with the paradox conundrum, may be as good as it gets! An example of such a paradox follows:

  • Delegation is Easy
  • Delegation is Difficult

There is a perception that delegation is all about Managers i.e. those that easily delegate (empowering) and those that have difficulty delegating (micro-managing).However this viewpoint is much too simplistic, as clearly there are more players in the process than manager e.g. subordinate if the delegation is to one person, or team-members if the delegation is to a team.The real key to dealing successfully with this paradox, whether in the case of a manager, subordinate or team, is to understand the rules associated with delegation.There are different models that help to explain these rules e.g. Tannenbaun & Schmidt Model and Businessballs Model (Businessballs.com). Once the rules are understood by all the parties involved then the process of delegation, and particularly the extent of delegation, is likely to be implemented more efficiently and effectively. Consequently the chances of success for the task or project increase dramatically. In addition the manager will have more time to move onto more value-added activities, and as a consequence will grow and develop. In addition the subordinate/team-members will be empowered and will also grow and develop – a Win/Win outcome.

  • Learn how to Delegate Effectively to Get Ahead.

Visit Purchase Product Page for:  Delegation – The Rules Revealed.

https://www.icoachandspeak.com/#!/Purchase

LIFE: A PARADOX CONUNDRUM (6)

Life is full of paradoxes that some say require balancing; however accepting an appropriate location on the paradox continuum, when dealing with the paradox conundrum, may be as good as it gets! An example of such a paradox follows:

  • Failure is Bad
  • Failure is Good

The challenge that we all face in life is that none of us want to fail. This may be related to internal success drivers that we have developed, or it may be related to external drivers such as what one’s family or friends or colleagues think! Nonetheless, human growth typically occurs when one’s body or mind is stretched to its skill limit when trying to achieve something challenging. As a consequence, if one always plays it safe and takes no risk of failure then little if any growth will occur, and one side consequence will be boredom. Paradoxically, on the other hand, if one sets unrealistic targets or goals and fails to meet these every time then, in contrast to growth, this is more likely to lead to a diminishing sense of self and ultimately disengagement.The key to success is to push yourself with challenging targets/goals that are a stretch for your current skills but which are manageable with effort and commitment

  • Success is Often a Consequence of Some Failure 

LIFE: A PARADOX CONUNDRUM (5)

Life is full of paradoxes that some say require balancing; however accepting an appropriate location on the paradox continuum, when dealing with the paradox conundrum, may be as good as it gets! An example of such a paradox follows:

  • Half Glass Full Motivates
  • Half Glass Empty De-motivates

In reality, if the glass is half full or half empty the actual amount in the glass, at that moment, is the same. This is equally true in life whatever the circumstances e.g. if you are having a bad day at work, it is what it is at that moment; if you are struggling to get your children to work to their optimal ability and they are not responding, it is what it is at that moment; and if you have just hit your golf ball into the water, it is what it is at that moment.  The key in life is to understand this, accept that you still have control of what happens next, and that the outcome is likely to be more favorable if you proceed with an optimistic versus pessimistic attitude. Paul G. Stoltz, in his book Adversity Quotient , refers to someone with an optimistic attitude as seeing events as: temporary, limited and external; in contrast someone with a pessimistic attitude as seeing events as: permanent, pervasive and personal.

  • Be Optimistic and  Always Look for the Upside/Positive

LIFE: A PARADOX CONUNDRUM (4)

     

Life is full of paradoxes that some say require balancing; however accepting an appropriate location on the paradox continuum, when dealing with the paradox conundrum, may be as good as it gets! An example of such a paradox follows:

  • Patience is a Virtue
  • Patience is a Curse

In life, one critical factor for success is taking action. More importantly though, it is critical to take action at the appropriate time in order to achieve the optimal outcome. Sometimes it is important to be Patient, as an action in haste can have negative consequences. However it is equally important, at other times, to step-up and take action, as no action can also have negative consequences. The challenge, of course, is having the insight to know when to act quickly versus when to restrain from action until a more appropriate time.

  • Know when to Act       

LIFE: A PARADOX CONUNDRUM (3)

Life is full of paradoxes that some say require balancing; however accepting an appropriate location on the paradox continuum, when dealing with the paradox conundrum, may be as good as it gets! An example of such a paradox follows:

  • Trust – if you have it nothing else matters.
  • Trust – if you don’t have it nothing else matters.

Trust is well defined by Stephen M.R. Covey as a mixture of Character (Integrity and Intent) and Competence (Capabilities and Results). To be successful both personally and professionally, over the long-term, it is important to demonstrate both Character and Competence consistently in order to have/retain a High Trust reputation.

For this paradox, Trust Me, it is always better to be a person who can be Trusted versus a person who cannot; even when it means accepting some short-term challenges as a consequence.

  • Without Trust Little/Anything gets Accomplished.

Visit Purchase Product Page for: Trust – Why Take the Risk?

https://www.icoachandspeak.com/#!/Purchase

 

 

 

LIFE: A PARADOX CONUNDRUM (2)

Life is full of paradoxes that some say require balancing; however accepting an appropriate location on the paradox continuum, when dealing with the paradox conundrum, may be as good as it gets! An example of such a paradox follows:

  • Personality/Value Differences can be Strength
  • Personality/Value Differences can be a Weakness

Each person is born with a distinct personality and this does not really change much throughout one’s life. Values are normally acquired as people grow and develop, with significant influencing factors being: country of birth, parental upbringing, social networks and so on. A person’s values can adjust over the course of life as more experiences are gained; but rarely do values change significantly.

The key to success (personal or professional) is to acknowledge that throughout life exposure to people with a range of personalities and values  happens daily; and that an understanding and, more importantly, an accommodation of these differences through one’s behavior allow these differences to: play out synergistically as a strength (win/win outcomes) versus play out antagonistically (win/loose outcomes).

  • Walk in Others’ Shoes to Shorten your Journey