The Critical Role of Beliefs

Siting in a quiet cafe today, a thought occurred that beliefs play a critical role in the way we handle conflict. Think for a moment about the way that our beliefs shape the way we behave.

A woman walked into the almost deserted cafe, and asked the cafe owner if she could use the loo. The cafe owner who was on the phone to a supplier at the time, interrupted his call and asked the woman if she wanted anything to eat or drink, or did she just need the toilet. Exasperated, the woman immediately turned and walked out of the cafe uttering a sarcastic “Thanks a lot!” as she went on her way.

The perplexed owner exchanged a puzzled expression with the girl making the bacon sandwiches, and the only other person in the cafe, and then went back to chasing his supplier on the phone.

Watching this play out, we can only wonder how many establishments the woman had visited before she formed the opinion that she would only be allowed access to the toilet if she purchased something. Five? Three? Or none?

Where else in life do we jump to an erroneous conclusion and then act upon our beliefs or assumptions without challenging them? Or even doing a bit of negotiation?

Identifying Corporate Procrastination

Procrastination, or failure to act, is one of the biggest challenges in business. Regardless of whether you are CEO of a multinational corporation, MD of your own limited company or a solo entrepreneur, all businesses suffer from inertia or procrastination from time to time. Identifying Corporate Procrastination is the first step in overcoming it.

Sometimes procrastination can be as simple as overwhelm in an individual, which prevents them from seeing past the pile of paperwork on their desk or the unread mail in their in-box. At other times, this can be collective paralysis when the senior management team has too many voices with conflicting suggestions, which make it almost impossible to pick out the right message from the cacophony. Or it might be the inability of a large organization to alter course in response to a change in the business environment, because of excessive or constraining process or legislation, or an over-reliance on historical precedence.

Procrastination usually takes one of three forms:

  • Individual Overwhelm
  • Collective Paralysis
  • Titanic Obliviousness

Individual Overwhelm
In the first case nothing ever gets done, because there is no place to start. This is sometimes colloquially known as rabbit-in-the-headlight syndrome. The deadline is past, the opportunity is missed, or an entrepreneur’s business venture never sees the light of day. There are plenty of statistics about how many business start and then fail within one, two or five years, but no meaningful information about how many great ideas never get off the ground through procrastination. For a business coach or indeed another person taking an interest, individual overwhelm is quite easy to spot.

Collective Paralysis
The second case, Collective Paralysis, the inertia is procrastination in stealth mode. The subjects will be unaware that they have a problem. If it is the senior management team, they will no doubt be able to show evidence of movement or progress, with minutes evidencing the steps towards a decision, but still the net result is no actual movement. Sometimes this covert procrastination is covered up by excessive requests for further information, and an almost obsessive need to overcome all objections. This can quite often occur at team level, when too many people are talking but no-one is listening.

Titanic Obliviousness
In the third example, it is not always obvious that anything is out of place. The organization is progressing according to projections, all the numbers are looking good, there are no alarm bells ringing and the ship is steady underfoot. Unfortunately, the potential danger may be the iceberg somewhere ahead, so it is no use just looking at the internal gauges of progress. The need to change course rapidly requires mental agility, which may not be the strong suit of the crew that got you where you are today. One possible warning sign of this form of procrastination is that there is a lot of talent leaving the organization.

Procrastination Worst Case
The worst case scenario is a combination of all three forms of procrastination! An organization which is steaming along nicely and does not realize what lies ahead, a dysfunctional senior management team too busy talking up their own interests to respond to new ideas from outside, and a Captain or CEO who has spotted the obstacle ahead but does not know what to do, or has too much work, or just does not realize what is possible. Do you recognize that scenario?

Where To Get Help
If you are a solo entrepreneur starting a new business venture, or the multinational CEO, the last thing you want to focus on is failure. But if you address the common reasons for failure, you’ll be much less likely to fall victim to them yourself. That is the purpose of a mastermind group, and why quotes from some of the greats can often help.

  • One of my favorite quotes in business coaching is actually from Arthur C. Clarke: The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible. In other words imagine what might be possible, and try it.
  • Another quote which works for me is from Samuel Johnson – Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome. Allow sufficient time for the objectors and nay-sayers to have their moment, and then make up your own mind. Decide on the new course, commit yourself to your chosen direction by documenting your decision, and finally act upon that decision.
  • In case you fall into the trap of thinking that you still do not have enough information to make a decision, then heed the words of Albert Einstein: Imagination is more important than knowledge.

All businesses suffer from inertia or procrastination from time to time, but a good executive business coach can help us identify the problem and point us in the right direction. All we need then is a little imagination and the fortitude to decide, commit and then act.

The Seven Pitfalls of Business Failure And How to Avoid Them by Patricia Schaefer

Tackle Violence At Work

As an employer you have an obligation to tackle violence at work under health and safety legislation. Failure to deal effectively with violence costs you in multiple ways, with poor staff moral, poor organizational image and extra cost through absenteeism, higher insurance premiums and compensation payments. Making a start to tackle violence at work makes good business sense and could pay dividends in improved productivity and reduced absenteeism.

There are five main pieces of health and safety legislation which are relevant to violence at work:

  • The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSW Act)
  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
  • The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences 1995 (RIDDOR)
  • Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977
  • The Health and Safety (Consultations with Employee) Regulations 1996

You have a legal duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of your employees, under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. This duty includes all forms of work-related violence, which HSE defines as: ‘Any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work’. This means:

  • physical violence – including kicking, spitting, hitting or pushing, as well as more extreme violence with weapons
  • verbal abuse – including shouting, swearing or insults, racial or sexual abuse
  • threats and intimidation

Violence at work can cause pain and distress for victims, even disability or death. Although physical attacks can have a obvious effect, serious or persistent verbal abuse or threats can also damage the health of employees through stress or prolonged anxiety.

If you have a violent incident at work involving members of your workforce it is important to act quickly in order to reduce the effect of long term distress. Plan to support your employees before any incident occurs, so that the support mechanisms are already in place. As an employer you may want to consider

  • Debriefing to give victims time to talk through their experience
  • Time off work, possibly with special counseling
  • Legal help in serious cases
  • Providing training for other employees to help them react appropriately
  • Reviewing you policies and procedures to reduce the possibility of occurrence

As good employers we can all work to help reduce the frequency and severity of violent incidents at work, and provide support for the victims if it does occur. Act promptly to reduce the cost of workplace violence to your business, and have a safer and happier workforce as a bonus!

Additional resources to help tackle violence at work:

Do Something Different and be Even More Successful

Have you ever wondered how some people are in regular employment and struggling with mortgages, overdrafts and credit card debt, while others work for themselves as entrepreneurs, and seem to do very well out of it? How can someone who has dropped out of college or University go on to massive success, while generations of graduates struggle to pay off their tuition fees for years.

The answer is as simple as it is startling; that is the way “the system” is designed to work. Schools are designed to turn out people who have enough knowledge and education to be able to hold down a steady job, aspire to modest material wealth while conforming to the rules, until they retire with their gold watch to a minuscule pension. Universities provide an opportunity to aspire to higher earnings, while providing a drag anchor in the form of student loans, while their highest aspiration is to become an employee or a self-employee.

Another question: what do Bill Gates (Microsoft), Michael Dell (Dell Computers), Larry Page (Google), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) and Larry Ellison (Oracle) all have in common? Apart from being incredibly wealthy, they all dropped out of high school or college. They got out before the education system could brain wash their minds, so they failed to become employees. They created their wealth and have grown their own companies by becoming business owners and investors.

This shows three things:

  1. Education is no guarantee of Financial Success in your life
  2. Lack of Formal education need not be a barrier to your success
  3. The ability to create wealth is something that makes you different from the others

According to entrepreneur and blogger Seth Godin, as quoted by Penelope Trunk on her Brazen Careerist website:

“… generation Y is the last one that will be as totally brainwashed by the system, by the schools and by companies and by society to believe that the industrial age (and compliance) is their ticket to the carnival. The smart ones will see that and play a different game, and the sooner they realize how bad the scam is, the faster they’ll recover.”

Seth Godin is an entrepreneur and blogger who thinks about the marketing of ideas in the digital age. He has produced several critically acclaimed and attention-grabbing books, including Permission Marketing, All Marketers Are Liars, and Purple Cow. He was the founder of Squidoo, the popular publishing platform and community that makes it easy to create pages (or lenses as they are known) online. In a presentation on TED, he spells out why, in a world of too many options and too little time, when it comes to getting our attention, bad or bizarre ideas are more successful than boring ones.

When is now the right time to decide to do something different and be a success?

Click here to watch Seth Godin on standing out

If you are interested in performance coaching, boosting your marketing, or doing something different and being even more successful, click here to contact Bruce Thompson Coaching and learn more.

Coaching and Facilitating Associative Thinking

While checking out some postings on the blogosphere, concerning the postulation that “six sigma” efficiency cultures are antithetical to highly creative thinking, I came across the following observation on Coaching and Facilitating from a blog on Coaching and facilitating – two faces of a coin, and followed a link to Design Thinking.

Actually the diversion (or digression?) set me thinking about the way that ideas form and grow from apparently random interactions. Say you overhear a snippet of conversation in a crowd, and it means something to you. Using Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic (VAK) predicates, it may cause a flash of inspiration, strike a chord in your mind, or give you an empowering feeling. Your internal filters and meta-programs kick in and sort, distort and generalize this new input and place it into the thought processes which are going on in your mind at the moment, down in your unconscious. Suddenly this is manifested in your conscious mind as a new idea, which may solve a problem you have been wrestling with, or take you off in a new business direction.

The overheard snippet may have nothing to do with the problem you have been unconsciously seeking to solve, or anything else in your life at the time; all it has to do is provide a bridge between the old state, and the new one. It is your own meta-programs which have shaped the new piece to fit the jigsaw. To take the jigsaw metaphor even further, it actually does not matter what fragment of picture is on the new piece, as long as it it fits in place; the picture is built from the resultant combination of the combined inputs. This process can also occur during sleep, as a dream, which may be interpreted in the waking state or simply ignored.

So what has this to do with the debate about Associative v Linear thinking? Well nothing and everything! Nothing, because drives for efficiency and refinement of process are linear, systemic and iterative, while shooting off on a mental tangent, or making an intuitive leap to a solution is non-linear, unpredictable and random, so would be excluded from any data set as background noise or spikes. Associative thinking is a holistic process that looks for relationships even though no causal link is apparent. This could also be seen to exclude intuition and divergent thought patterns.

However, it is the very random and unpredictable nature of the non-linear conclusion which may be germane to the debate; this could easily be the basis for an associative connection, made at an unconscious level. While this might be accepted by an Asian thinker as having a rational basis, this is inconceivable to western minds.

As noted in The Geography of Thinking by John Mole, author of Mind Your Manners, “The most striking difference is between Asian and Western ways of thinking. While western thinking strives for order, Asian thinking aspires to harmony. Rather than look for ways of reducing facts or premises into categories, eliminating what does not logically fit, it looks for ways of associating them into meaningful patterns which accommodate rather than resolve conflicting premises or facts. ”

So with this geographical component to the Associative v Linear debate, it is now appropriate to turn to the main challenge of Coaching and Facilitating Associative Thinking; If efficiency cultures are as far from highly creative thinking as it is possible to be, how can you promote and nurture the creativity in such a controlled and linear environment?

As Professor Krishnamurthy Prabhakar posted in the thread Productivity vs. creativity: Does the culture war impact social entrepreneurs?, “the six sigma process is based on linear thinking. It is applicable to simple systems that can be measured and controlled. On the other hand creativity is a non linear process”. He also points out that “Organizations today are not just simple input process and output feedback systems. They are complex and non linear. You need to change the mind set that six sigma is a cure for all ills. Six sigma is one tool, but not a theory to explain complex system behavior.”

This polarization between linear and non linear though processes is more than just a debate between creative and system oriented types. On the BBC World News program Virtual Revolution Dr Aleks Krotoski explores how the World Wide Web is reshaping almost every aspect of our lives, 20 years on from it’s invention. The Web is promoting a change in the way people search for and access information, and may be resulting in a change in the brains of users, prompting the title of the fourth Programme in the series, Homo Interneticus? Check out the cogitative processes of the Korean children who have been using the web to research answers as part of their school curriculum.

Business development professionals are clear that being able to ‘think out of the box’ provides a competitive edge, particularly in research and technology based industries, which value inspiration. One of the fundamental building blocks of ‘thinking out of the box’ is associative learning, although we really do not know how the associations and links in our brains function. While western culture ignores or marginalizes non-linear conclusions as aberrant or illogical, Asian thinking encompasses and encourages them to preserve harmony.

Once the dust has settled on this argument, the truth may be that linear thinkers are slipping into their sunset years, while the rising tendency towards associative thinking will mean more intuitive coaching is required. In this new world, Neuro-Linguistic Programming and the specialist techniques used by associative thinking coaches will become highly prized. It would be unfortunate if Asia was the only source of such specialist skills.

Focus On the Positive To Achieve New Year Results

At this time of year many people are minded to make resolutions as part of the New Year tradition. They decide to give up smoking, take up jogging to lose weight or make a career change to get away from a job they dislike. Sometimes they attempt to do all of the above at once!

Research carried out by the University of Hertfordshire shows that less than a quarter of people who make New Year’s resolutions actually keep them. Their data shows that most people (78% of their 700 people sampled) focus on the down side of not achieving their goals. It comes as no surprise to me that they fail to achieve results if they are focusing on the negative side. What we focus on tends to grow.

The best way to achieve any goal is to forward vision the result you want to achieve, and then frame the steps to achieving it in positive terms. You may want to lose ten pounds, but focusing on not eating does not help you to do it. Instead, how about focusing on eating a healthy, balanced diet and taking regular light exercise? You want to give up smoking? How about focusing on taking a healthy drink of pure water, every time you would previously have had a cigarette? You want to leave your dead-end job? How about identifying the recruiting requirements for your ideal job, studying to build your qualifications and then applying for the position?

Notice how these are all goal seeking motivations, with positive steps towards where you want to be. This is important to success, as your unconscious has difficulty processing negative images or sustaining away motivation. Instead of stating the objective as a negative (ie Stop Smoking) you focus on the positive steps you are going to take, such as drinking pure water.

When you make your New Year’s resolutions there are just three steps; Decide, Commit then Act.

  • Decide on your achievable goal and focus on the positive steps you are going to take.
  • Commit to achieving your goal, by cutting off from any other possibility.
  • Act to achieve your goal, every day and in every possible way.

Part of the problem that people have in maintaining resolutions is the meaning that we give to things. Human beings are meaning making machines; we attribute meaning to everything. It is a legacy of our primitive past, where we started to attribute meaning to natural events as a way of overcoming fear.

Remember that a minor slip on your path does not mean that you cannot achieve your goal. If it rains and you don’t get out for that morning jog, it does not mean that your resolution is broken – it just means that it is raining. So stay indoors, do push-ups and sit-ups and get over it!

Focus on the positive to achieve the results you want, and have a Happy New Year!

Take Action Today and Save $1000

Have you ever read one one of those get rich quick postings and thought this it looks too good to be true? Anyone it seems can write a blog, post a tweet or launch an ebook telling you how to make it overnight, without working. We teach you how to maximize your opportunities, and take massive action, but do not subscribe to the notion that you can get something for nothing.

The BT Event blog has posting about a 30-Day Challenge by Ramit Sethi, where the challenge is to save $1000, and everything has to be accomplished within 30 days. The author, Ramit Sethi, says in the introduction to the challenge “…only the people who spend time implementing will save any money.” Now that sounds like something we teach in our coaching programme.

The full list of tips is published on the blog posting Announcing the Save $1,000 in 30 Days Challenge, but the important difference from the usual savings scheme, is that you have to commit to doing it. Ramit Sethi graduated from Stanford, co-founded PBwiki, and is the New York Times best-selling author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich. If you want to check it out I Will Teach You to Be Rich it is available from Amazon.

When you learn that you are responsible for everything that you manifest in your life, and that only you have the means to change anything, then you are on the road to personal power. Why not take massive action today, and see how much money you can save in the next thirty days? Take the first step on the road to personal power.

Click here to see Announcing the Save $1,000 in 30 Days Challenge

The Relationship Doctor on Coaching

Some of you will know my friend Scott Braxton as The Relationship Doctor, and author of the LOVE BOOK: The Top 50 Most Trusted Experts Reveal Their Secrets for Relationship Success. Scott received this question from someone who has done a lot of work on themselves, has made a lot of progress, and had many “Aha” moments. He now wants to move into coaching.

Q: I am sick and tired of getting more awareness without getting any results! What’s happening? Is coaching worth it?

Here is Scott’s answer:
You ask if coaching is worth it, and the answer is absolutely yes. If you have a true desire to live a better life, working with the right coach can make all the difference.

People initially seek coaching or therapy because they are suffering. Sometimes you are just stuck, and have no idea what’s possible, or how to get unstuck. Perhaps other people are making your life miserable, and you want to learn how to change them or cope better. Perhaps you see where you want to be, and need help going for it.

For many people, the act of going inside can be challenging. Initially, you will gain awareness of your old stories, which you have unconsciously lived as “The Truth.” You will need to uncover these stories, before you can see how you created the meaning that keeps you entrapped in your particular prison. The more aware you are, the more you will see how trapped you are. Some people find this so uncomfortable, that they will argue, or stop the process before they discover freedom. They would rather talk with people who will support their stories, and say something like, “Poor you. I don’t know how you put up with that. You deserve better.”

For people who want to be responsible, you have the opportunity to take charge of your life. Soon, you start to realize that you are causing all this by the very stories you create – by how you filter, distort, and interpret what’s happening. At first, this sucks, and you may attempt to deny this truth. You may even go into a round or two of blaming yourself. Then you might criticize yourself for blaming yourself, and a spiral may ensue. Sound familiar?

Then something magical happens. You start to see the strategies you have developed to shut yourself down and sabotage your progress. This is truly eye opening. It’s like taking the Red Pill, and seeing reality for what it is. You get to see how you have created your identity, and how that has been holding you in place. Almost immediately, you see new actions that will get you what you truly want.

It is important to learn to be gently with yourself, and your shared humanity. You will be able to dissociate enough to see the positive benefits of the old way of acting the way you did. They served a purpose, and are no longer needed. Typically, the purpose was to keep you safe and secure, yet now you find that these very ways are holding you back from the joy and happiness you now desire.

This desire for joy and happiness can now fuel your self-discovery. Once you see that your point of view is valid, but it is only one of many, you discover your self as distinct from, and equal with other selves. It is only from this place of Selfhood that you are actually able to authentically relate to other people.

Is this easy? No, but is it very simple. You will be amazed at what progress you can make when you trust yourself and your coach, and you willingly do the work.

Scott Braxton, Ph.D., MBA is the author of the LOVE BOOK: The Top 50 Most Trusted Experts Reveal Their Secrets for Relationship Success. Known as “The Relationship Doctor”, Scott helps people to experience and express the love they have. For more information, click here to visit