Saturday, July 22, 2017

What's stopping you from having more confidence?


Is this what confidence looks like to you? Some people think confidence comes from deep roots in tradition and thought and money. Some people think it comes from looking like people and institutions that are backed by authority. They think confidence looks like long-held power.

If this is what you think you need to achieve in order to feel confident, then confidence can seem impossible. 

I think confidence looks like a two-year-old shouting bus! I think it looks like someone in a kitchen, peeling potatoes without thought because she's peeled a million before that. I think it looks like the grin before the shot gets taken. 

There's a lot you don't know and will never know. That doesn't stop you from enjoying the thing you have just learned. It doesn't stop you from knowing what you know right down to the bones because you've practiced it forever. It doesn't stop you from taking joy in playing the game.

The thing that stops you from having more confidence? It's your belief that confidence looks like an institution. It's your belief that if you were really confident, that confidence would last unchanged for a hundred years.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

When you want to connect, your words have to ride your energy

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It works every time, even if you're speaking a second language or working in a field that is new to you.

Here's the magic formula for effective communication: knowing what you want + paying attention to other people = words that work. 

I know this seems too hard. I know you are tempted by the people who teach another script, another voice lesson, another theory of body language that will supercharge your communication. I know that it seems easier to work on your words than it does to work on being so clear about the results you want that you are able to dedicate most of your attention to the people you want to influence.

Attention is harder to manage and maintain than a script. But scripts don't work well without it. Your attention is signalled by energy: people notice when you're directing energy at them. They pay attention to it. And when they do, your words can ride that energy and land deeply and effectively.

But if you expect the words to do all the work, they will work only when the listener is providing the energy to carry them. And it's risky to expect the people you want to influence to do most of the work in the communication. If there's something they want enough, they'll do it, but they'll be doing it to get what they want (not necessarily what you want).

To get what you want, you need to know what you want. And then you need to direct energy at the people you need to influence to make what you want happen.


Saturday, July 01, 2017

Happy Birthday, Canada - it's okay to be imperfect if you keep trying



Today is July 1 - Canada Day, and because Canada 150 is a big deal, it's been greeted with big protests. Everywhere on social media, protestors are disrupting the celebration because Canada has not always been good to them or for them.

I get it. You're mad. Somebody screwed up and you want us to fix it (even though exactly how to do that is up for some debate). You're angry because you're stuck and you don't see a way to make it better. You're angry because you're black, you're indigenous, you're left wing, you're right wing, or you've been left out in the rain or out of the speech (sorry, Alberta).

Here are some house rules you might consider based on something called the six step reframe in NLP:

1) it's better when you can generate lots of new ideas - innovation takes cooperation and respect
2) the best ideas come from our best selves - the ones Canadians try to remember in celebrating a national birthday (ideals like diversity, tolerance, ecology, compassion and aspiring to something better).
3) a failure to get consensus is overcome by generating new ideas and building consensus, not by knocking each other out of the arena.

I am really proud of being a Canadian, and I am really angry when people attack me for things I had no say in and for which they have no remedy. I am really angry when people suggest that my nation doesn't deserve to exist or that my children do not deserve to have a place here because of something that happened hundreds of years before they were born. So I get it. You angry, disposessed people want me to feel the way you feel everyday.

Now what?

For me, now self-management. This isn't how I choose to experience this day or this life, and it's not how the thinkers I trust believe that people make good choices. So peace. Even celebration in the place of anger and frustration. Not because other people deserve it, and not because it makes them comfortable. Because it works.

And because I want to live in a world where imperfect people still deserve a day to celebrate their best selves. I want to live in a world where tolerance and compassion and collaboration are ideals worth trying, even when we screw it up and have to try again.

Canada, you're nowhere near to perfect. Diversity is challenging and so is trying to do the right thing. People have been hurt and will be hurt and we, collectively, won't help - we probably won't even be able to decide what might help. 

And yet - I live in Toronto and I work with people from all parts of the globe and we share hopes and stories and it's pretty wonderful.

So, happy birthday, Canada. Celebrate today. And get back to work tomorrow.