February 19, 2018

Acting today to justify who we were yesterday

How others see us, and what to do about itWe tend to favour consistency. We act in a way that aligns with who we were before. Then everything is nice and tidy. It’s not embarrassing. It might be rather ineffective, or even plain wrong, but it’s not embarrassing to carry on in the same groove.

We do all this unconsciously: Without really thinking about it…

We act today to justify how we were yesterday, or who we were yesterday, or what we did yesterday.

But actually…

It might be smart to change; to do something different—especially if we’ve figured out that doing or being something different might work better.


It is embarrassing to make the change: We’re implicitly admitting we were wrong, or at least not the best we could be. Courage is definitely required.

It’s still the best thing to do though.

And we help other people grow by our example.


Which bits of how you used to be yesterday might it be worth leaving behind—or at least, making them part of your past rather than your present, perhaps remembered with a metaphorical photo in the album?

So you survived the recession…

Worried manSo you successfully steered your business through the recession—a significant achievement which no doubt took a lot of courage, determination and energy, and probably involved a fair amount of pain.

You learned a great deal. You established a tight grip. You had good governance.

You’re going to keep these disciplines going. (We may not be out of recession yet, so that’s wise.)

And yet…

You might need something different now, or perhaps more accurately, something else as well.

You might need some innovation and change if you’re not going to be left behind by more adaptable organisations. And if you need some innovation, you might need to loosen up. You might need to create some freedom.

You might need to find a way to balance disorder and order.

Do you know how to do that?

Are you in your vision?

Bridge across a gapBefore we can create something in reality, we must create it in our mind. So developing a personal vision is a vital step in achieving something that didn’t exist before.

How clear and detailed does our vision need to be? Clear and detailed enough that if it showed up, we’d recognise it. Without that clarity, it won’t have the necessary guiding effect on our actions. Without that clarity, we won’t notice the relevant opportunities that come our way; we won’t see that they fit; in fact, we won’t see them at all.

That’s all very important.

But here’s the key…

We need to place ourselves in our vision. We need to see where we fit in the end result, and in turn, the journey to get there. Otherwise we won’t truly step into the dream. We won’t connect it with our life. And we won’t take the actions we need to take to make the vision a reality.

It feels safer to see a future state that doesn’t include our role in it. But then we disconnect ourselves from the journey to get there. And so we don’t take the right actions. And our vision doesn’t become a reality.

It takes courage to see yourself in your vision, taking the lead you know you can take.

But that’s what you need to do (if you want to change anything anyway).

Can you see their hesitancy?

Man thinking, looking upwardSometimes it’s obvious…

We notice when our friends and associates are holding back from committing to something—or maybe someone—which in itself is preventing them achieving the results they want.

We might encourage them to “go for it” or to “have the courage of their convictions.”

That’s after we’ve seen they’re holding back; or after we’ve felt their hesitancy.

I think you’ll agree you notice this in others.

But here’s the thing…

Do you see it in yourself (when it’s there to see, or feel)?

What (or who) are you hesitating about?

Caution, of course, is appropriate, but sometimes we overdo it.

What can you learn about your own hesitancy from how you notice it in other people? What are the signals you pick from them, and perhaps could notice in yourself?

You can’t stand out by fitting in

Admiral Horatio NelsonTo lead on an issue, you need to get attention somehow, and to do that you need to stand out in some way—no use, therefore, trying to blend in, at least not all the time.

To take a lead you need to accept the possibility of ending up leaving “the tribe”.

Funnily enough…

Your coming to terms with that may be the very thing that causes the tribe to follow. It needs to be a real acceptance though: Feigned won’t do. You truly have to commit.

Courage is compelling.

Giving yourself permission

Sonia ChoquetteAuthor and speaker Sonia Choquette give a fabulous demonstration of giving yourself permission to be yourself and do essentially anything on stage. The 700 or so people present respond wholeheartedly. In fact, the more Sonia is herself, the more the audience responds. It’s not that she’s does anything outlandish – just using her voice to the full and dancing around a bit – well a lot maybe.

Leaving afterwards, someone is overheard to say “I wish I had Sonia’s lack of inhibition.”

Think about it for a minute…

That’s kind of backwards. She already has her lack of inhibition, on the inside anyway. It’s a question of choosing to let it out. I suppose we get what she means though… it takes courage to be so exposed in front of so many people, or even perhaps just a few.

But here’s the thing…

The more Sonia is herself, the safer she is. The more she gives herself permission, the more we support her. And it’s the same with anyone else on that stage.

And it’s the same with people one-on-one…

The more we give ourselves permission to be ourselves, the safer we are.

What can we learn from Aung San Suu Kyi’s continuing appeal?

Picture of Aung San Suu KyiAung San Suu Kyi’s continues to attract great affection, support and interest both within and beyond Burma.

What The Economist (Nov 20th, 2010) describes “as the abiding affection and respect Miss Suu Kyi commands” is due not least to “her grace, courage and good humour” and, I would add, “integrity”. The lesson for us all, I submit, is the power of these qualities, including in everyday life and the workplace.