Archive for July, 2008

The KEY: Can You Turn Up The Lights?

Dear Leader,

This Key describes the blind spot of locking yourself into your own perspective. Paradigm blindness can distort your view of reality, causing you to believe in what you see to the exclusion of other viewpoints.

It was late afternoon as we lined up on the runway for the last flight of the day. Practicing war games made for long, intense training days and this would have been my third flight for the day. But I did not want to miss it. I was a young pilot and I enjoyed pushing the envelope. Late flights can be very beautiful, filled with majestic views. As we took off for this final flight of the day, the setting sun was just at the right angle to send the last rays of light into my eyes, so I put the visor down to block the glare.

I loved flying during these summer afternoons, watching the subtle changes in the colors of the desert floor as the day comes to a close. After several passes through low valleys and some tight maneuvers, we turned back to base in a sky filled with oranges and pinks; the sun was no longer visible. As I made the final approach, I noticed that the runway lights just ahead looked a little dim. “Can you turn up the lights?” I asked over the radio to the control tower.

“Sure”, was the reply. The lights on the runway immediately turned a bit brighter. “Thanks”, I said. The officer in the control tower then added, over the radio. “You might also want to lift up your visor”. Luckily, there were only a few other pilots in the air to hear this and witness my embarrassment; so, I smiled, pulled the visor up and made a good landing.

What’s the point? I never waste embarrassment since it can be a good teacher. Here is what I learned from this experience:
1. If something doesn’t look right, if you cannot see, begin the search close by.
2. Always check yourself first – are you blocking possibilities, are you preventing light? Turn up the lights inside you.
3. Often, the answer is closer than you think. Often it is just in front of your nose. In my case, it was literally so.
4. Asking for help is the fastest way to get an external perception. We can all ask others to help us turn up the lights more often.
5. Keep a good sense of humor. It will help you turn embarrassment into a helpful lesson.
Now it’s your turn. Turn up the lights (lift up the visor) and be your own leader.

© Aviv Shahar

Favorite Soundtracks

Music is the fastest way to feelings. Music inducts us into feelings which activate a mindset that connects us with importances. In our leadership and strategy summits we use music to accompany moments of reflection and introspection; specific tracks help produce the feelings and mindsets needed for the quality of reflection we are seeking to promote.  Recently, many participants have asked to know more about the music we use in our seminars and summits. Here are a few of the favorite soundtracks I have on my Ipod which we sometimes play in the background:

A Beautiful Mind
Last of the Mohicans
The Mission
Pearl Harbor
Unfinished Life

What Do You Collect?

As you go out into your life every day, what do you go out to collect?

From the beginning of time hunting and gathering were the main subsistence strategy employed by human societies. It is deep in our genes. In the course of evolution though, we have become more sophisticated; we started gathering more sophisticated things.  But collecting and gathering remains one of the human’s preoccupations. The difference is in what we gather. What do you gather? What do you collect?

Here is a little self-awareness exercise for you. Let’s say you have 1000 units of gathering and collecting power which you use throughout the days of your life. How do you spread these 1000 units between the 10 major things we human choose to gather?

Step one: Write the list below down.
Step two: Add other items you feel are relevant for you.
Step three: Spread 1000 units between all the items relevant to you.

Out of 1000 units of power, how many units to you invest to collect –

1. Stuff (material)
2. Data
3. Money
4. Knowledge
5. Skills
6. Ideas
7. Opportunities
8. Experience
9. Memories
10. People

Step four: Look at your scoring and ask: is this congruent with my values? Do I gather and collect the things that are most important for me?
Step five: Reflect on the results and ask: Do I want to make a change, to realign and redistribute units from one item to another?

© Aviv Shahar

Great Coaching Is Asking Great Questions

“Great coaching is asking great questions,” I said to Carol. Carol did not hesitate but immediately replied with a good question: “How do you learn to ask good questions?”

Here is my reply to Carol:

1. Get interested. Really interested.
2. Write down the questions. Don’t just hold them in your thoughts; frame them in writing.
3. Start a little book of questions, to capture and catalogue questions as they happen.
4. Become fascinated by how things work and by finding ways to improve the situations around you, focus on seeing how things work rather than ‘being right’, or having readymade answers.
5. Move from ‘How’ to ‘What’ and ‘Why’ questions.
6. Practice looking at an object, or a word, and asking five questions about it.
7. Look at the people around you – replace and reframe opinions and ‘likes and dislikes’ to questions. Let yourself wonder what moves them; why they do what they do.
8. Next time someone says something and you immediately are tempted to just respond with your view, ask instead: ‘what makes you think like this?’; ‘what makes you feel like this?’
9. Listen to what you say and ask: ‘why did I say this?’ Practice asking questions instead of making points.
10. Write down 100 questions. You can create the questions in categories. Here are a few to get you going in the practice of asking questions. After you practice asking questions for a while, you will discover some great questions can lead to great coaching.

A. Self-awareness questions:
– What energizes you? What gets you going?
– What are the three biggest stressors in your life?

B. Questions about hopes and aspirations
– If you knew you could not fail, what would you begin to do today?

C. Questions about money:
– What are your basic beliefs about money?
– How are these beliefs shaping your relationship with money?

D. Questions about relationships:
– What are the most important things you are looking for in relationships?
– What does the map of your social network look like (are there a few major patterns)?

E. Questions about the future
F. Questions about achieving results
G. Questions about fears and worries
H. Questions about personal development and growth
I. Questions about leadership
J. Questions about health and well being
K. Questions about the learning process
L. Questions about great people and leaders in history
M. Questions about happiness and joy
N. Questions about habits and about psychology
O. Questions about how the economy works
P. Question about innovation
Q. Questions about trust and influencing
R. Questions about success and failure
S. Questions about coaching and mentoring
T. Questions about process engineering
U. Questions about purpose
V. Questions about destiny
W. Questions about resolving conflicts
X. Questions about human virtues
Y. Questions about forgiveness
Z. Questions about current world affairs

© Aviv Shahar

Berlin Visit – First Impressions

1.    My first visit to Berlin. We arrived in Berlin on Monday morning. Nine minutes after the pilot parked at the gate I was sitting in a taxi heading to the hotel. This is by far the fastest I have ever been facilitated in arrival to my destination.  Customs, immigration and luggage pick-up are all dedicated to the gate. Never before have I seen such efficiency, or something that comes even close to it. Wow!

On the afternoon I visited the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag. Great energy here. Lots of young people. This place feels very green and quick silver.

If Berlin was a person what would they say? Here are the first words I hear: “I am alive! I am together! I will embrace life fully! I am not going to miss out on anything!

My first impressions of Berlin – beauty, pride, pain, remembrance, confusion, hope and a search for a new identity. Berlin is a gate. It is a gate to the past. It is also a gate to the future.

Berlin – More Impressions

2. The history of a place is built like sedimentary rock, layer upon layer. Berlin has many sedimentary layers. The Prussian Empire, Industrialization, the making of Berlin into the capital of the German Reich (1871), early Twentieth Century and WWI, the Weimar Republic, Hitler’s rise and WWII, the Cold War and the construction of the Berlin Wall (1961), a divided city that became reunified,  and now the newly rising Berlin with multi cultures and immigration. Each of these layers is recorded here and is felt. This place is an epicenter. Uncertainty, excitement, anxiety and hope converge in the vortex of Berlin.

3. My German friends educate me regarding the word leadership which is problematic here. Since I am a leadership expert and coach, here to facilitate a leadership summit, they take the time to explain that the German word for Leader is Fuehrer. We converse about this, exploring the themes that can help reframe the past into an elevated future. Healing of the past can be found in new, higher and evolved expressions into the future. Can Germany and Berlin be a laboratory place for future type leadership? Could we practice here “facilitative leadership”, “enabling leadership”, “collaborative” and “co-creative leadership”? These are some of the cutting edge trends in 21st century enlightened leadership. Can Berlin be one of its laboratories? Perhaps it can. It will help to give Berlin the new identity it desires.

As this city becomes the center of contemporary art and culture, where you can party 24/7, Berlin may also evolve to be a laboratory of the future for the new emerging field of co-creative leadership. Such is the leadership that energizes both business and social entrepreneurialism.

(Click on images to enlarge):

© Aviv Shahar

The Greater Love

Why is language so confused (and confusing) when it comes to love? Why are so many people confused about love?

Falling in love has little to do with love and yet love is the word that is used. Infatuation and attraction are some of the words that describe what people experience when they say “I fell in love”. When attraction and infatuation fade they say, “We just fell out of love.” It’s not surprising that so many young people are confused about love.

‘Falling in love’ infers that we stumble into love without effort, without thought and most importantly, without the mindset that relationships require work and a steady influx of renewal and recommitment.  We can love our new car, a different house or the latest TV program, but these ideas convey little or no connection to human capacity for love.

“I do what I love and it energizes me” is one aspect of love and then there is a greater love. This love is not about what you do when you feel like doing it. This greater love is about what you do even when you don’t feel like doing it.

You don’t feel like getting up at night out of a deep sleep, but as soon as you hear a crying child or baby, you are up. Great love is about what you do in spite of what you may feel like doing at that moment. There are short, fleeting feelings and then there are durable deeper feelings. Personal growth is about learning to discern and differentiate one from the other.

The greater love is found not in the transitory, fleeting feelings but in the actions of determination born of devotional, durable and renewable feelings. There is love in commitment, love in service, love of making things better, and love of serving others who are in need. There is love of the human possibility, and the love of what you are called to do and be.

Show me a great endeavor and I’ll show you a person who follows the greater love.

© Aviv Shahar

How Computers Changed Our Minds – Another Aspect Of Gates’ Legacy

This week, with Bill Gates’ last day at work, every respectable magazine made an attempt to summarize his legacy. Here is something that was not covered in any of those articles.

That morning John (63), the manager at the auto shop had a large elastic bandage on his hand. “What’s that for?” Sara asked.

John: “Yesterday I fell and hurt myself badly, and a major swelling developed under the wrist. The doctor said nothing was broken but the swelling put a pressure on the nerve, and my brain got confused. As it sometimes happens with computers, my brain misread the signal and thought the nerve was telling it that all my fingers were broken. That was why it was so painful. The doctor gave me cortisone shot to reduce the inflammation and swelling, so the pressure on the nerve would be removed, and this would help my brain get the correct read on the situation”.

15 years ago you wouldn’t have heard a doctor giving such an example; and even more surprising, you would hardly expect the patient (unless he worked in IBM) to understand the metaphor and its exact context.  PCs on every desk have not only changed what we can do; they have changed our minds and how we use language.

Metaphors and imagery always originate in the obvious, the easy to grasp, local environment. Long ago, it was the forest, the sea, the mountain, the desert; then it was the plants, the animals, the mustard seed, the beast. Later still, the machines, the conveyor belt, the assembly line. Today, metaphors and imagery are fashioned by a global-computerized-internet environment because this is such a central part of our experience.

Can you estimate how many times a day you use computing and Internet metaphors to explain relationships, nature, your body and brain, organizational issues and more…

Our experience of our environment fashions our minds and the language we use to frame our communications which then inform our sense of meaning and purpose. Bill Gates’ legacy stretches beyond the PC – he helped reshape our perception and language.

© Aviv Shahar

The KEY: Wasting Failure, What’s The Use of A Broken Tree?

This KEY will help you find out what the “failure” blind spot is, and how you can use it to help your team members realize their fullest potential.

What have you done with your recent successes and triumphs? How have you used and celebrated them?

What have you done with your failures and setbacks? Have you used them to learn and build toward success?

Many managers waste failures. Pain, pride, and not being able to tolerate the anguish or embarrassment blinds them from seeing the opportunities of blunders.

What is the “Failure” blind spot?

1. Letting personal feelings blind you from discovering what in the process could have happened differently, and how you will do it differently next time.
2. Personalizing and identifying with a blunder, losing confidence and thinking “I am a failure.”
3. Viewing failure the way people viewed leprosy: don’t touch it, don’t see it, and it will go away.
4. Missing the learning and innovation opportunities that can arise from now knowing what not to do.
5. Refusing to “do the grief work” – not internalizing and assimilating the development experience.

Click here to find out more about comeback heroes, about why falling is not failing and about how to use this KEY.

© Aviv Shahar

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