Confidence

Meetings. To speak or not to speak? And if so, how?

"In meetings, you sometimes say things that don't need to be said."

The day I received that feedback was a big turning point for me. I made a decision to be more aware of my motives for speaking: Was it mainly about justification (of my presence in the meeting, or even the team), or was it mainly about contribution (to the greater good of all concerned)? Every time I could see it was primarily about justification, I chose to remain silent until I could find a better way to make a real contribution.

This practice is good for all of us but it seems women have some additional challenges.

I've just read an interesting article published this year by Flynn Heath Holt Leadership in the USA called "Why Meetings Matter Even More for Women"

Career Security - The Big Three Factors

As a professional speaker, I enjoy engaging with the perspective brought by audience members. Sometimes their input actually reminds me of things to include next time.

Last night speaking at a CIMA event, I described the two essential elements for having a secure career (we all know secure jobs are a thing of the past!).

Thanks to a comment from the back of the room I will now talk about the three essential elements ...

My own journey and also helping hundreds of people with theirs has taught me a lot about what underpins career success. Since working in recruitment, outplacement, career guidance, and executive mentoring/coaching over the past 21 years, I've come to see that ongoing success depends on just three things:

1. What You Have to Offer

As we move through life we continually build skills, knowledge and experience.

Everyday Miracles

There is a quote from Wayne Dyer that I love:
"No-one knows enough to be pessimistic"

On those days when I start frightening myself by thinking about a problem as if it can NEVER be solved, I find solace in remembering other times when I felt that way and then a solution appeared, sometimes from an unexpected source. Recently I've noticed a lot of this happening.

I wrote my last blog, Be Bold, Move Forward, after finding a way to end the frustration of our house purchase being blocked by something beyond our control. Well just yesterday (within 48 hours!) everything changed. Our vendor, has now bought another property with no onward chain. The problem is resolved!

I always amazes me how seemingly insurmountable and sometimes depressing problems can disappear really quickly.

Here are just four examples to illustrate:

Be bold. Move forward.

It was a defining moment I shall never forget.

It's springtime in 1991 and I am standing in the kitchen with my girlfriend. Since meeting a year earlier we had moved in together and had each celebrated our 30th birthday. On this particular day, she starts saying something that both surprised and impressed me.

She spoke from the heart about where she was on her life journey. She was feeling ready to settle down and whilst she felt that she could do that with me, she said that I needed to decide what I wanted. If I wasn't really feeling ready, she would understand but she would need to move on to create the life she wanted.

Do You Believe What You think?

Last Friday I lost £20 in a bet. I was at an Australian Business event in London to celebrate the Olympics. I got into a conversation about the 1976 Montreal Olympics. This had been Australia's worst performance since 1936 (no gold medals compared to 8 in 1972). I have a lasting memory of being at high school watching live as Stephen Holland won our only swimming medal (a silver). I've been saying that for years but thanks to Philip Aitken, I won't be telling it quite like that any more...

Philip said with conviction, "No, Australia's only silver medal in 1976 was won by the men's hockey team. Stephen Holland won a bronze medal"

I said with equal conviction that it was definitely silver. I was so sure I was right I said I'd bet on it. "Are you really sure about that?" he said, graciously giving me the chance to back out of this. "Yes!", I said. I wanted to punish him for being so foolish to think that he was right.

Power and Humility - The Case of Simon Cowell

The jester used to play an important role in the court of the all-powerful king. Using humour, he could get away with saying things that nobody else would dare to say. In doing so, he would help keep the king grounded and willing to recognise his own shortcomings. On Saturday, the funny and self-assured David Walliams became the jester in the court of King Simon Cowell.

As I sat down with my family to watch the often amusing and sometimes inspiring TV programme, Britain's Got Talent, there was clearly a very new dynamic on the panel of judges.

Head judge and creator of the show, Simon Cowell was back along with regular, Amanda Holden, and new judges, Alisha Dixon and David Walliams.

Previous judges have included Piers Morgan, David Hasselhoff and Michael McIntyre, but none have made Cowell seem much less cool and powerful, and more ordinary in the way that Walliams did last night.

He got away with it for three reasons:

How are you? How are you REALLY?

Exactly 7 days ago the beautiful and happily married wife of a handsome, talented football player, manager and loving father found her husband had hung himself in their garage. ..... And yesterday, my tooth broke.

Now, the death of Gary Speed is a tragedy which shocked a nation and, of course, my tooth problem is a minor irritation (even to me) which is easily repaired. However, there is an important symbolic parallel we can all learn from. Let me explain ....

Last week I went to the dentist for an overdue check up. I'd had no problems with my teeth in the last year and as I he looked in my mouth, the dentist could see no problems. However, we agreed it was time for an x-ray to make sure. This showed something else. One tooth had a lot of decay beneath the surface. The dentist was a little surprised I not had any problem with it and recommended I book in for a filling ASAP. I said to the receptionist that perhaps I could wait until after my 3 week trip to Australia. She said it is not worth the risk. .... She was right.

Two Words to Help You Do Amazing New Things!

Last week, we took our 10 year old, Matthew, to view a secondary school that he might go to. When we saw a beautifully drawn picture of a human hand done by one of the art students, Matthew declared, "I couldn't do that" and, feeling inadequate, immediately left the room.

Instead of seeing his possibility, he saw his inability. He completely missed the exciting point that this was a place where he could learn to do things like that!

When marvelling at the skill of another (e.g. in singing, drawing, dancing, writing, or technology), have you ever made the mistake of thinking, "I could never do that"?

Stanford Psychologist Carol Dweck noticed the difference between a "fixed mindset" and a "growth mindset". Now people may vary in their innate abilities and potential, but which of these mindsets they choose can have a huge impact.

People with a fixed mindset assume their capabilities are already set. They therefore place a limit on themselves and will miss opportunities.

Those with a growth mindset recognise that application and experience enables them to achieve more in life. And so they usually do!

Go Slow to Go Fast!

Today in London I had coffee with a fellow Australian who holds non-executive chairman roles and has held some very senior executive positions in his distinguished career. I was keen to learn his views on what emerging leaders need to know and do to ensure their career success.

Having committed myself to accelerating the development of the next generation of leaders, I find it helpful to either reinforce or extend my existing knowledge on the subject.

His comments did both.

We agreed that some things have changed since his days as a young leader stepping up into big roles in his 20's and 30's, compared to today's new generation of leaders. These include:

  • There used to be more middle management roles to enable progression
  • Career path choices were more simple and straight forward

Bringing A New Person Into The Firm (Lessons from Kate & Wills)

Tomorrow, watched by over 2 billion people, Kate Middleton officially commences her new life as a member of the British Royal Family. There is a sense of optimism that this marriage will be more successful than the one that emerged from the "fairytale wedding" of Charles and Diana 30 years ago. I'd like to suggest that there are powerful lessons that can be applied to the process of having people accept a new job within an organisation.

Recently I met with a client who recruited a new team member with a view to this person being a potential successor. What appeared to be a great "marriage" has thus far proved to be a disappointment for all concerned. There are many reasons for this but it highlights why a successful marriage (whether to a prince or to an organisation) requires a bit more forethought and attention than the fairytales would suggest.