Showing posts from August, 2009

3 Ways to Find Your Hidden Strengths

Hidden strengths sound mysterious and maybe even a little like magical thinking. You might have read this and thought "I wish I had hidden strengths but I'm just not that deep." You might have thought "I could really use a few more strengths today." If this is what you are thinking, you are probably thinking it by yourself. Other people are the fastest way to find out what strengths we are hiding from ourselves. They often see us as more clever, more resourceful and more talented than we see ourselves.

Depending on your mood, you might not agree that people are seeing you this way now. But think of the people you admire and respect. Think of the people who have had a powerful positive impact on you. Do you believe they always knew how strong they really were?

Tip #1: Think of somebody you like and admire. Notice just one quality that you really respect in that person and spend a little time remembering times they have shown that quality. Because you have…

Three kinds of cupcakes

It was my turn to provide treats for the office today so I made three different kinds of cupcakes - plain chocolate, chocolate walnut, and coconut vanilla. Not everyone likes walnuts or coconut but the people who do really enjoy them. At the end of coffee time, there were mostly plain chocolate cupcakes left.

If there had only been one choice, it would have been the plain chocolate and everyone would have liked them.

Cupcakes are not very serious. That's actually what I like most about them. It's impossible to take cupcakes too seriously - or to take yourself too seriously while munching on a cupcake. Cupcakes are for fun.

Choice is for fun too. It's not always about what's necessary. Sometimes it's about paying a little extra attention to making the most of the moment.

Coffee break lasted quite a lot longer than ten minutes today. And everyone went back to their desks feeling like part of something. Not because I made three kinds of cupcakes. Because paying at…

When it gets quiet

There are two groups of you out there. One group says "quiet? are you crazy?" Often, these are busy people, people who have too much to do at work and at home, people who are raising young kids and fighting to hold onto jobs that are less secure and less enjoyable than they should be. The other group doesn't say anything at all. They run their own businesses and they know that when it gets quiet, it gets scary. They might not have kids or they might have grown kids: either way, they know what it's like to come home to quiet.

What do you notice when it gets quiet?

In our training, we give people simple ways to make it quiet in their heads. Some of them hate it. Quiet scares them. Some of them love it - but mostly because they are used to too much noise. They know that quiet won't last, so they enjoy it while they have it.

When it gets quiet, we lose our sense of where we are. Sound is an important part of how we locate ourselves and how we balance. Withou…

Amateurs do the things they want in the way they want to do them

The title of this post comes from a column by Kurt Andersen in the August 10, 2009 issue of Time magazine. The column is called "The Avenging Amateur." Andersen argues that an amateur "must throw himself into situations where he's uncertain and even ignorant, and therefore obliged to figure out new ways of seeing problems and fresh ways of solving them." Amateurs are people who "don't worry too much about breaking rules and aren't paralyzed by a fear of imperfection or even failure."

I first encountered a celebration of the amateur in the world of business when I read the original edition of Max dePree's Leadership Jazz. Since then, I've worked with many professionals who were brave enough to challenge their own sense of competence and decorum. They are working to reclaim the innovation and open-minds of amateurs.

Words are the frames we put around concepts, but each word is also framed by its context. Context has made 'professi…

After the Ecstasy, the Laundry

It's been a long time since I was first intrigued by Jack Kornfield's excellent title, After the Ecstasy, the Laundry.

I'm reminded of it this morning, as I make my way back after the intensive training we did last week. Ecstasy is not precisely the right word, but it does convey the sense of being pulled strongly into another way of seeing, another way of being. Training lasted 8 days for the NLP Master Practitioners, 8 long days. As the leader of the group, I am fascinated, engaged, compelled, energized, and exhausted by the experience of nudging everyone just a little further than each would go alone.

Now I'm back at my desk, trying to make sense of paperwork, of logistics, of marketing, of the world as it is. I am driven by a new sense of purpose and distracted by a sense that there is so much left to process from the last week. Even when I sit very still, a part of my mind is whirring, whirring, whirring in the background.

It's been nearly ten years since I …

Thoughts the night before a training begins

It doesn't often show, but I am always nervous on the first day of school - even when it's the first day of training. For eight days, I am going to watch this group get closer and closer - and then it will be over as suddenly and improbably as it began.

I don't train groups that make sense. I train wildly diverse groups of interesting people. They don't always have much in common except the desire to experience themselves and others with a little more clarity, a little more colour, a little more depth. They are quite often very smart people.

Tomorrow I will be the leader of a group of very smart people. If I thought teaching meant telling, I would be very nervous. It's a very good thing that I will lead mostly by asking good questions, listening carefully to the responses they get, and following the genuinely new information that finds its way into the room.

A little clean up, a little sleep, a little baking. . . and the adventure will begin.