Archive for August, 2008

Do You See Constellations Where Others See Stars – The Kaleidoscoping Art

Excerpt from the Fourth Emerald Key: Radical growth – the Learn-ability leverage
Kaleidoscoping is the practice and capacity to recognize relationships and patterns. You practice active inquiry that seeks to understand the core principles that are the basis of all systems. Kaleidoscoping is the ability to compare and correlate seemingly unrelated fields and apply concepts from one to the other. For example, using the terminology and anatomy of weather systems in organizational behavior and the season’s cycle in the market place.  You discover that building an investment and building trusting relationships are similar – they follow the same principle, both need ongoing deposits.  You observe the infrastructure and activity of a beehive to learn about promoting a culture of efficiency and excellence in execution. Kaleidoscoping is the practice of increasing your capacity to handle complexity, such as in the now 24/7 interconnectedness of the web 2.0 conversation. You kaleidoscope to discover meaning in new combinations and connections and learn to anticipate what is newly emerging. You connect the dots to see constellations where others see stars.

© Aviv Shahar

Why I Disagree With Marshal Goldsmith

I agree with 93% of what Marshal Goldsmith tells us in his “Advice for the young that transcends age” in BusinessWeek.

I agree that in an era of uncertainty, we all need to think like entrepreneurs. Second I agree that it is tough out there, and it’s only going to get tougher. Third I agree that you better forget about security.
And fourth I agree that it is a fairer and better world when millions of people from around the world are and will be getting the chance their parents never had.

Here is what I disagree with:

1. I disagree that you should “strive to survive”. I believe you are better off striving for much more than survival. Unless you strive to make a meaningful impact, to unlock your opportunities and to make the most of them, you begin to die even while you survive. How about striving for greatness, for meaning, for purpose, for a meaningful contribution?

2. I disagree that you should “forget about taking a year off.” If you have an opportunity for a learning adventure, a year off the trodden path and breaking away from the rat race might be the best move you can make to help your career development and opportunities. You can make this not a “year off” but rather a “year on” about life, living and learning.

3. I disagree that you should not be finding yourself during your adult years. You can “find yourself” inside anything you do. The first creativity is in re-creating you. Beyond the great surge of the globalized economy and consumerism, we are about to see a great surge in people’s desire for connection, meaning, true impact, beauty, inspiration and for simply being able to create a peace of mind. The next two decades are about to unleash a new wave in this globalization surge – the resurgence of art and culture and integral development, with new scientific breakthroughs and innovation on all fronts to facilitate these higher human needs. Do not give up on these essentials. The price of giving up is too high. You will be thriving but dead.

Investing in what you are about, in what you believe in, and in your growth and development is the best way to invest your time and money in your future. The future is not a repetition of the past. Subscribing to the mindset that helped our grandparents to survive the Depression is not the best approach. Instead, try to glean what the future is bringing and what mindsets are useful to have now to be able to live and flourish in a global ecology, not just survive it.

© Aviv Shahar

Olympics Moments

The first two Olympic Moments I remember were Bob Beamon’s long jump at the Mexico City Olympics and Lasse Viren’s 10K run at the Munich Olympics. Beamon excelled so far beyond the world record (8.90 M) that it seemed unbelievable, as though, for a moment, he had defied gravity. It would take 23 years before his record was matched. Viren had fallen earlier in the race and lost touch with the lead group. He quickly picked himself up, rejoined the group at the front led by Bedford and went ahead to win the race with a sensational time. His win seemed to defy the rules of plausibility.

The Beijing Olympic Moment was the 4X100 relay with Jason Lezak, who came from behind the French, Alain Bernad, the World and Olympic champion to win the race for the American team and give Michael Phelps that Gold as one of his eight.

What makes an Olympic moment? Why was Viren’s 10K a source of inspiration for so many? What is it about Lezak’s finish of the 4X100 freestyle, and about Phelps’ finish of the Men’s 100M Butterfly and his Eight Gold medals in Beijing that will inspire youngsters for generations?

Olympic moments are about much more than victory. More than a peak performance. Olympic Moments redefine our perception of reality and of what is possible. They instruct us about the human capacity to transcend limitations. To defy the rules. To even defy the laws of gravity.

Why are these moments formative into the collective human story? We love the drama. We love heroes. But there is something else. Olympic Moments of physical and athletic greatness let us intuit that which is beyond – the greater, transcended nature of life. They offer us a glimpse into a ‘perfect’ and ‘supreme’ realm. They confirm a latent knowing that beyond our physicality there is something unbeatable, eternal. Olympic Moments show us that at the edge of the human capacity, where the improbable and the impossible are suspended for a short moment, life can be touched by the miraculous. That on a special occasion, with hard work, training, sweat and tears you may be helped by something greater. That you may also be sustained and delivered beyond, to reach the unattainable and unimaginable, and touch the immortal essence of life.

Once you find this moment in the Olympics, you may find it again nearby, in simple things. Perhaps even inside you.
© Aviv Shahar

The Future Of Medicine

Watch this Charlie Rose discussion with Dean Ornish, George Church and David Agus.

My response: The bigger news in recent genetic breakthroughs is not that you will be able to know your medical future, but the knowledge that you have the power to determine which part of your genetics get expressed. This is the important stuff!

60 years ago with the development of antibiotics, medicine went through an arrogant phase. Medical doctors at that time believed we were just a couple of decades away from a disease free world. Few people contemplated then the unintended consequences of antibiotics. It would take a couple of decades for super resistant bugs to appear. I still remember the series of penicillin shots I got 44 years ago. My immune system is even now still recovering from that event.

I admire these brilliant doctors. It’s great that the medical field generates such excitement and new possibilities. But there is a caution toward some humility and wisdom in our next steps. Please don’t tell us personalized gene therapy will eradicate disease. And do tell us more about the preventative choices we can make in our daily lives. We now have a society, mostly in the West, which believes that genes contain a person’s unavoidable destiny. Based on the recent genetic breakthroughs, let us hope that the educational efforts of the next decade help us to understand that we have all the power in the world to determine which part of our genetics will get expressed. Let’s realize we have a part to play in how our destiny and our health play out.

© Aviv Shahar

Developing Leaders

The greatest leadership act in the world is growing and developing new leaders and then empowering and releasing them to lead.

Leadership development and the management training field have seen many formulas: ‘the 5 steps…’; ‘the six ways…’; ‘the seven, the nine and the twelve of something else’. All these frameworks are good, and they all carry wisdom and powerful teaching, but there are two problems:
The first is that all maps are only an extrapolation of reality.
The second is the formulaic and prescriptive proposition they make.

True, we all have maps in our mind. Even when you say “I don’t have a map,” it only means you don’t have a clear map, you’re not aware of your map, or your map isn’t working or is confusing. That’s the point of downloading new maps. It is a great learning experience. What then is the problem or danger with maps?

It’s called – forcing the map onto the landscape. That is what I did one night when we learned to navigate: I had made a thorough study of the topographic map. I memorized how many steps I’d have to count to the first fork, to then go around the first and second hill and climb the third hill that would appear on my left. It was all in the detailed topographic map.

It was a summer evening and off we went, each leaving for their solo navigation on their own. In the beginning it all looked clear. But then something happened. The turn I was looking for in between two hills did not look exactly how I expected it to look from my study of the map. But then I looked at it again and found a way to justify the landscape, and of course got lost. It’s called forcing the map onto the landscape. We do this all the time. We fight situations by trying to coerce onto them our mental map, and it brings to us grief and distress.  I had to trace back to the point where I started, by which time it was nearly morning. But first I had to let go of the fixation of forcing the map onto the ground reality.

As a leader, maps can help you a lot, but you need something even more important than maps—You need your own compass. You need to know yourself and have the capacity to enter an unknown terrain that has not been mapped, where you draw the map as you walk the terrain. This is the nature of leadership. You find a path forward in a place you have not travelled before. “To lead is to take the next step, to go where you have never gone, to open a way forward into the unknown and the uncharted.”

The best and most impactful leadership programs help leaders find and develop their own compass, sense of vision and direction and offer tools to draw the map as you walk the terrain. In our leadership summits and retreats we take the view that you are unique. Your strengths and success formulas are unique. While all formulas and maps carry helpful teachings, the greater reward is in discovering yourself, and understanding your values, areas of passion, personal capabilities, learning inclinations, energy cycles, and your own way of creating and achieving success. Successful leaders first lead themselves.

The greatest leadership programs are those that help you lead yourself and then help you get on the path of developing leaders around you.

© Aviv Shahar

Update Yourself

Today is 08.08.08. It is Sara’s birthday. Thank you for being here.

This is a good day for a UY celebration. What’s a UY celebration? UY stands for Update Yourself. I feel like updating myself today. The beauty of a UY celebration is that you can choose to have it any day of the year. It doesn’t have to be a national holiday. You can make it your national or family holiday, or if you want, you can make it your own personal holiday.

Today I feel like having a UY celebration. Not because the Beijing Olympics begins today but because it’s a good day. What do I do on my UY Celebration day? I take time to relax. Take in a deep breath. Let go of worry. Say thank you for having special people in my life. Appreciate the beauty around me. Marvel at the miraculous nature of life. Smile. Laugh. Live in the moment. Appreciate what’s been made possible. Appreciate great teachers that have blessed this world. Appreciate great teachers that have blessed me.

Update Yourself Day is a day to give yourself a new permission. Permission to be new. To let go of what did not work yesterday and to be ready and open to new ideas and opportunities today. Every day begins fresh. You can start fresh too. UY day is a day to ask new questions. To embrace the innocence of hope. To know that all is well. That the only ‘perfect’ is what is; that ‘should’ is a chimera of the mind.

Life is too short and too precious for ‘shoulds’. Too precious to give up on being new. Too precious to worry about the good opinion of others. Too precious to give up loving and laughing.

UY day is a day to dare. To dare to be true. ‘Truth can hurt but it sets us free’. To dare to step in the place of naked truth. To step into the place of communion. To enjoy the complete mandate of being alive and being given the power to choose. Something mighty wants you and me to have a full run. To not be lesser than our fullest. Yes, this is Update Yourself Day.

Will you give yourself a UY day?

© Aviv Shahar

Are You Looking For A Spiritual Experience?

You get up, go to work, you manage your way forward, you lead and you follow. You persuade and agree, and overcome challenges, you create solutions, and you hope for a good day. This is it. Stop looking for a spiritual experience. This is what you came here for. You are here to discover what you need to learn. You are here to influence, be influenced, change and be changed. This is it. You are in the experience of life. You are more than a human being looking for a spiritual experience. You are a spiritual being having a human experience.

Your work, your journey as a parent, as a partner, as a leader is the human experience you offer to your spirit.  Being a human is the gift of entering the realm of change, wherein you can grow and develop. That’s what you came here for. To learn patience. To learn how to listen. To learn to cope with pain, recover from setbacks. To develop the capacity to appreciate, feel and perceive new things. To make the higher choices. To forgive. You are here to create art and beauty. To learn and teach understanding. You are here to generate innovative solutions. To help make the impossible possible. You are here to help the human enterprise move forward. And to help you move forward. You are a spirit in a human body for this purpose.

You are here to find your gifts. You are here to express your gifts in a way only you can in this earthly realm of choice. To gain the experience of expressing your gifts and the powers endowed to you and to discover what that will crystallize in you. You are here to love and to learn to be loved. This is it. It is your spirit being granted a human experience.

© Aviv Shahar

The Three Decision Points

Every important decision has to be made three times. If you act on an important decision without a complete journey through the three yeses, your decision and action may not be as intact and strong as it can be.

Let’s take the buying of your house for example. First you had the instinctive ‘yes, I like this house’, on your first visit.

This first decision is a gut decision. Does it feel right or not?

Then, you asked yourself on the following morning – ‘do I still feel positive about this house?’ The subconscious mind is slower than your gut instinct. It brings forward its concerns the following morning. That’s why people say, ‘I need to sleep on it’. It’s a way of saying ‘I need to get to my second yes.’ This is the second decision point. In the case of the house, possibly you have gone to see the house for the second time, to find out what the neighborhood looks like at a different time of the day.

The second decision, your second yes is when you earnestly engage in the conversation.

You are then at the point of making an offer. Your offer is contingent on an inspection. The purpose of the inspection is to see all the things that you cannot see, to flag all the possible problems.  This brings you to the third decision point.  The third yes is reached by the elimination of all objections and possible stoppers. This is the yes found by completing your due diligence.

The first decision is at the point. The ‘first yes’ is instinctive and quick.
The second decision is upon reflecting the following morning, or after a couple of days. The ‘second yes’ is a little slower and takes a while to find.
The third decision is after having completed your due diligence. This ‘third yes’ is the slowest. It takes as long as it takes to remove doubts and find the assurance about the positive long term prospect of the decision.

Do not bring analysis-paralysis to the third yes. Due diligence is assessing and evaluating all the known factors and then quantifying the unknowables and guestimating their risk-reward ratio. Once you found the third yes, learn to take action and move forward without looking back.

Now you can use this insight in your internal dialogue and conversation with others. On important matters, ask yourself: “Have I completed my three yeses?”

© Aviv Shahar

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