Archive for October, 2007

Cast Your Net – Part Three

In part three of this net casting I look at the following questions (read parts one and two below. If you want to join me, you can spend 7-15 minutes daily on each question):
7. What new growth opportunities will excite and energize me?
8. What risks am I ready to take? Where am I ready to step into a new unknown territory?
9. What will make me very proud next year?

© Aviv Shahar

The “Emerald Keys”

Our two new Emerald CDs are now available. “Living On Purpose” and “Stepping Into The Unknown”. To get your CDs visit here.

The 10th Emerald Key: “Living on Purpose”
In this Key we help you find and articulate your purpose. We take you through a process of discovering your deepest beliefs about yourself. Some people discover their purpose early in life, but most must journey a long road to find it. To have true personal power it’s important that you find this inner core and the confidence to believe in yourself. It’s important that you believe that your life on earth is significant and that your purpose and what you are here to do matters. Living on purpose is how greatness reveals itself, and when you realize your potential for greatness, you can become one with your reasons for being.

The 11th Emerald Key – “Stepping Into The Unknown”
When you were born, you entered this world not knowing failure. The concept of failure did not exist. All you cared about was discovering and exploring everything around you. This joyful impulse to live with your senses wide open to discover the opportunities of living is the experience we are seeking in this key. There is within this key, an invitation to reflect on your attitude towards risk; to evaluate how you go about the opportunities of your life. Do you take risks or do you hold back? Think about this: what is the price of taking risks? And then, what is the price of holding back? With this Key we invite you to step into your power, to realize your opportunity and to be the author of your own unfolding story.

© Aviv Shahar

Cast Your Net – Part Two

Here are the next three questions in my October deliberations. If you want to join me, you can start by keeping a journal and spend 7-15 minutes daily on each question. Alternatively you may have a conversation about these questions with a friend:
4. What am I doing that I no longer need to do? What am I ready to stop doing?
5. What do I want to learn? What new skills and capabilities do I want to develop?
6. Forgiveness is the greatest act of self love – what am I prepared to forgive?

© Aviv Shahar

Cast Your Net – Part One

October is almost over and the end of year draws near. Every new year brings in a new flux of opportunities, challenges, energy and growth. Each year, I begin to cast the net for the new year in October. It’s great time to reflect, explore ideas, and deliberate on options. This annual net casting is a process of bringing myself up to date with where I am today. I harvest learning and wisdom from my journey so far this year; I identify needs, trends and directions and I draw future plans and possibilities. This process starts in October and I keep working on it through the end of the year. This helps me “plough the field” and gives the process time to breathe in and out. I do this by dwelling on certain questions. Some questions need time to simmer and percolate and it takes time to engage the holistic capacities of the mind.

Beginning to cast your net now makes you more ready for golden opportunities to find you in the new year. In the next four days I will post three questions daily that I am deliberating on as I begin to cast the net for the new year. Here are the first three questions:

  1. What have I learned this last year? What have I enjoyed and found satisfying?
  2. What do I no longer need? What can I clear out of the way, to make space for the new?
  3. Who are the important people in my life that help me be the person I am? What do they need from me? How can I be there for them?

© Aviv Shahar

Leading From The Inside

Rachel is a bright executive. She moved swiftly up the corporate ladder and was given responsibility for a large division in her company. She relocated and quickly adapted. Yet, for a few months Rachel continued to struggle. She hadn’t been able to communicate effectively with a key manager. He had been a talented manager and she tried a number of approaches but simply couldn’t get through to him.
When we spoke about her struggle it became clear to Rachel that it was not the manager she was struggling with. It was herself. “It’s my own internal sense of clarity and direction that I am having difficulty finding. My ineffectiveness with this manager is just a by-product. It’s not about him, it’s about me.”

The lights turned on for her when she realized this and proceeded to articulate that what she faced was not ‘doing’ things differently, rather it was finding a new, more powerful sense of ‘being’. It was not a technique to be found on the outside – it was a new knowledge of self, inside her, that she was looking for.

I challenged Rachel to clarify and reach for the things that were absolutely essential for – her core values and vision for herself. She came back with a tremendous sense of self-discovery, liberation and strength. Rachel then realized that she had released something powerful within. She had found a more authentic voice and the results were thrilling.

In the weeks following our coaching, Rachel was cruising at a different altitude. Her focus and enhanced effectiveness surprised even her. “It’s as though I have new amperage about me and there is a kind of grace and joy that accompanies all that I do. My communication is clearer and more confident. It is not an act. I have a compelling inner sense of what is important, of my values and of what I cannot compromise. People respond to me differently. I was able to find a powerful new clarity with the manager I had struggled with previously. I haven’t really changed a lot of what I say; it’s that I am now able to come out from a different place. The conviction and the energy come from the inside and other people can’t help but notice.”

© Aviv Shahar

“Celebrit(y)-ocracy” Or Celebrating Life That Is The Question

A central theme in the American experiment was striving for liberty and freedom. A vital component of this was the departure from the Monarchy and the Aristocratic society in favor of a Meritocracy. The deeper dimension of this new aspiration was the promise of discovering the royal aspect of human life inside each person’s pursuit of higher expression and opportunity. This journey was in large part abandoned or left incomplete, and the societal vacuum created by doing away with aristocracy was filled with “Celebritocracy”.

Too many people give up living their lives and celebrating its meaning and significance. Instead they obsess over the soap opera dramas of celebrity madness, which is fed by media frenzy. Why are we surrounded by a culture of celebrity obsession and voyeurism? What is this insatiable hysteria? Why do people feel so distanced from themselves that they substitute focusing on what they want to change in their own life with a voyeuristic attachment to the quasi details of the lives of celebrities?

There are many explanations and theories but underneath it all there is an epidemic of loneliness, insecurity and confusion. Yes, I know, celebrity is what sells. Celebrity romances, breakups, scandals and sex intrigues get ratings. Especially when it is supported by a bi-polar swing from the Emmy awards to what Hollywood actress lost her custody battle this week. Is this really what society is about?

There is a great fear in many people of discovering that they might be empty on the inside, that there is no core certainty and strength. The fear is that perhaps who they are – is not who they want to be, and the celebrity craziness provides the needed distraction of thinking about someone else. If our talk around the water cooler is about the latest star gossip than it isn’t about our own discoveries or insights and therefore involves no risk and also no gain.

The social experiment of doing away with royalty and aristocracy in favor of meritocracy is only half done. The next leg up toward the maturation of the societal organism is to liberate itself from the need for a culture of idol worship. This doesn’t appear to be an exclusively American obsession but rather a growing global desire to passively ‘live’ through those who appear larger than life on the big screen and on the internet. Society’s next developmental threshold is to transcend the mental and emotional age of 12-14, when perhaps the stage of hero worship was an open ended exploration of the options and opportunities that were ahead of us. The next cultural evolution is to help people take their lives back, to discover the royal nature of human life in the qualities of courage, beauty, honor, goodness and stewardship and to embark on their own exploration into what it means to be alive and participating in the greatest adventure of all, their own story.

© Aviv Shahar

“Innovation, Not Love Makes the World Go Round”

The Economist special report on innovation: “Something new under the sun” quotes John Dryden of the OECD: “We firmly believe that innovation, not love, makes the world go round.” Dryden makes an important point but misses the bigger point. The bigger point is that the driver of innovation is love and passion. What drives innovation is the love of new ideas and new solutions. It’s the passion to create new opportunities, experiences and services, and the disciplined love to drive and execute these to establish a new reality.

The Economist further elaborates on the polarity of GE execution-focused approach to innovation, which emphasizes “operational excellence”, versus Google’s approach to innovation that emphasize free-ranging play by granting its engineers permission to spend 20% of their time on pet projects. GE’s CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, brings the “What matters gets measured” mindset to innovation, while Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO, declares that trying to measure his firm’s innovation process would choke it off all together. It’s the science versus art argument that again misses the point, as most polarity debates do. The greater power and opportunity is in integrating art and science. The integration point of science and art, and of the execution-based and the free-range approaches to innovation is a disciplined love. Great scientists and engineers get up in the morning like great artists and authors – they cannot wait to get into the process they love so much – the process that takes them to the next step of discovery and realization, the process that gets results.

In our program, The Three Propulsions of Great Companies – A Template for Greatness, managers focus on their best practices and on ways to unleash innovation. Amber Network offers practices and disciplines that cover the whole range from focused execution to innovation, where these are not mutually exclusive but integrated into the passionate art and science of getting results. It’s time to stop the polarity argument and create a whole-person, whole-organization integral approach to innovation that gets results.

© Aviv Shahar

Your Most Critical Competency

Remember how excited and energized you were when you headed for your first day in school? Perhaps for you it was the first day of high school or college. Perhaps it was each time you stepped into the class of your favorite physics or philosophy professor. Your favorite teacher had this magical capacity of engaging you and stimulating your learning. It was so fascinating to be in this class that nothing else existed while you were there. For that space of time, there was only what was being discussed in the class and the engagement with this rare teacher. This is the power of fully engaged learning – it grabs more than your brain. It engages you totally, down to every cell in your body. Now imagine that such an energized state of curiosity, engagement and powerful learning was the order of the day for you. That you could bring this energized focus to whatever you did – you would be unstoppable and would excel at everything you tried. This is the practice of the Fourth Emerald Key – Radical Growth Through The Learn-ability Leverage.

In our work with executives around the world we have identified learn-ability – the power and ability to learn – as the key competence of people who thrive in times of dynamic and rapid change. Learn-ability is what triggers radical growth. Let’s define what we are talking about. Learn-ability is the capacity to harvest and distill knowledge and to apply that knowledge in a meaningful way.

We are talking about an insatiable thirst for knowledge and an uncompromised commitment to learning where everything – every moment, every interaction becomes a maximized learning opportunity.
© Aviv Shahar

The Discovery Journey Of K: Episode 3 – The Relationship Dilemma

(The Discovery Journey is dedicated to the young people of the world. To read previous episodes in The Discovery Journey of K visit here)

The following morning K wrote in her journal: “I find myself listening more and more to my intuition, and when I act on this inner guidance it brings me great strength and energy that was not accessible before. I am beginning to recognize what strengthens me and what makes me weak, what energizes me and what makes me feel tired. I also see that this cause my balances to shift and I feel different attractions and repulsions. People that I never knew all of a sudden are friendly and open to me and some of my friends are drifting away.”

“I love following my intuition but I am now faced with new dilemmas and decisions that are not popular and I am a little unsure. Habits and relationships have their nourishing power but can also create a certain heaviness or weight. D and I have been loyal friends for each other for many years but I see that I am now moving on to places she can’t or won’t go. Still, I know that I must continue, that there is more for me to do and be, even if it means giving up the known and the friendly. Don’t these two always seem to come together – in every move forward there’s a giving up of the current foothold, like stepping on a row of stones across a river – there is one moment where you are no longer on the first stone but not yet safe on the new next stone. It is natural that I feel uncertain.”

K continued to write: “What I know for sure is that I want to evolve and grow but I do not want to hurt people. As I grow in my awareness I begin to see things I did not see before and these insights cause changes in me. My female friends and male friends react differently. Changes I make seem to scare D who is getting upset with me because there are things I no longer want to speak about and do even though they are things we shared in the past. I am sensitive to her struggle but I am also sensitive to the needs of my growth. I have to keep my mind clear and focused so I can be present in what I do. I cannot continue to carry around ‘old luggage’ I used to carry in my mind. In D’s eyes I am no longer the person I used to be which for her turns up as a loss. She is grieving the friendship we used to have. I am grieving it too but I understand that my grief is part of the pain of growth. Even though I have compassion for D, I realize that I cannot take on her struggle as my own. True friendship is not in confirming each other’s weakness and resisting change.”

K paused to reflect on what she just wrote. She felt good journaling these thoughts. “I pray for her strength and hold the best that I know about her in my mind as I seek to make my own higher choices. The new voice in me tells me I am not to feel guilty for my desire to grow. I try to explain what is happening to D. She feels alienated not because of me or a lessening of my affection for her, but because of where she is in her own growth. She sees my growth as a betrayal. But it is not. My growth is about the joy I begin to discover daily and the precious meaning I continue to find. This joy is found in the courage to follow my intuition and see what becomes more important every day. I hope to be strong enough and forgiving for myself and for D.”

© Aviv Shahar

The 3-Legged Stool Of American Supremacy And The Dollar Crisis

The Roman Empire ruled the world by conquering land. It came undone not by an external enemy but because it crumbled from the inside, at its core. The British Empire did not need to conquer land to rule the world. It controlled the sea with its navy and thereby controlled commerce and the world at that time. The beginning of the end of the British Empire was the innovation of aviation. Aviation made naval power less important and helped unleash America’s power.
How did America gain an empire-like hegemony in the 20th century? The answer is a 3-legged stool.

  1. American high moral ground originated by the constitution, progressed by American idealism and demonstrated by America’s role in WWII and the rebuilding of Europe.
  2. American innovation and entrepreneurial edge, demonstrated by its productive drive and a series of scientific, medical, and technological breakthroughs.
  3. The unique, never before in history, universal reserve currency status of the Dollar.

This third leg has been the more invisible instrument of American dominance. It did not need to control the land, nor the sea. America controlled the universal currency. Three things allowed the Dollar to become the universal currency.

  1. The Dollar was good as gold and was backed by gold as the ultimate currency that has never been tarnished. The gold window was closed in 1971 by Nixon.
  2. The great engine of American industrial and technological development became the fountain of wealth creation that backed up and gave deep support to the unique Dollar status.
  3. America’s role in WWII created tremendous trust in both its strength and in the benevolent ideal demonstrated by America in not reducing Europe and other parts of the world to conquered states. In essence this was a second George Washington moment in not assuming the kingship role that was available. Instead America did something smarter. It made the Dollar the King.

The machination of the dollar’s crowning is found in the Bretton Woods Agreements .

On September 20, 2007 the Dollar broke down a critical technical resistance by cutting through it’s all time low. A few days later the Canadian Dollar achieved and surpassed parity. The deterioration continues further. The third leg of the American stool is being challenged very seriously. The strength of an economy is in the soundness of its currency. The last five years have seen the first leg of the stool – the American high moral ground – being criticized and tarnished in the world. Thomas Freedman tells us that the second leg of entrepreneurial and innovative edge is also being challenged by a flattening world. Some would claim that the 3-legged American Hegemony stool is no more because of the triple deficit coupled with many trillions of Dollars in what is called by some a nuclear derivative cloud.
I propose that it is too early to conduct an American Requiem. That instead this can be a moment for America to transcend its crisis to discover and unleash the even greater potential waiting in this land. This potential is in the form of a new release of brilliance. Brilliance not aimed at preserving old hegemony but toward leading the family of nations on the path of true world and planetary citizenship.
Great nationhood in the 21st century is offering leadership of a global planet-wide nature. The task for young and bright minds of America and of China, India, Latin America, Russia, and Africa – the task and challenge for the young people of the Earth is to discover the ingredients of such global, local and personal leadership. This is bigger than climate change or any one issue and includes societal, cultural and spiritual maturation. The task is to identify, build and lead the three or seven legs of world citizenship and leadership wherein individuals, families, groups and sovereign nations can choose their destiny and thrive without bringing this planet back to some dinosaur age. Any ideas?

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