Archive for September, 2008

The KEY: The Lethal Jackpot

This KEY can save your life. It saved mine. As a young fighter pilot I read with keen interest the investigation reports of accidents. I figured it was going to help me stay alive. Pilots who were better than I, with more experience and whom I admired crashed. I was scared. It made me ask: “What is the anatomy of accidents? Can I learn something from what happened to them that will help me stay alive?”

I have rarely spoken about this in my 25 years of teaching and never wrote about it until now, as the Wall Street meltdown unfolds before our eyes. Click here to learn about The Lethal Jackpot and to find out what you can do to intercept and avert it.

© Aviv Shahar

Innovation – The Third Engine

“Economists and business leaders across the political spectrum are slowly coming to an agreement: Innovation is the best—and maybe the only—way the U.S. can get out of its economic hole.” tells us Business Week In “Can America Invent Its Way Back?” . It then asserts that “innovation has fallen short of its promise in recent years”. We believe we know why. In our work with management teams on cultivating innovation culture we found that:

1. Innovation is a set of disciplines and practices that must be embraced from top to bottom across the organization.
2. Innovation requires a specific mindset and commitment of resources.
3. Innovation is the “Third Propulsion” of a great organization. It must be supported by the “First Propulsion” of the company which works to increase Efficiency, where the discipline is on “Don’t change what works well” and “let’s not reinvent the wheel.” It then must be supported by the “Second Propulsion” which drives Optimized Effectiveness, where the discipline is on “let’s discover the 10 percent improved effectiveness we can unleash and create”.

When these conditions are not present, innovation disappoints. When First and Second Propulsions are not harnessed in support of the Third Propulsion -– Innovation cannot be unleashed at full and falls short of its promise. First and Second Propulsions practices are critical to help us “Re-imagine who we are and what we do” and “develop new opportunities and ways of creating value.” Engaging all Three Propulsions and their enablement is the Template For Greatness and how America can invent its way back.

© Aviv Shahar

The Subtle Work Of A Transformational Coach

What is the subtle, at times invisible work of a transformational coach and consultant?

1. To learn from the client (the team) about their talent and potential. Especially to learn about the potential that the client is unaware of or is unable to access.

2. To hold for the client their best strengths.

3. To bring fresh perspective, a new question and a new way of looking at the problem.

4. To believe in the client’s capacity to grow, transform and evolve.

5. To help create ‘zero gravity’ inquiry and open ended exploration.

6. To promote an innovative process.

7. To intuit the next steps. Open the next door.

8. To bring a total urgency for the client to take the next step and, at the same time, contain it with absolute patience and detachment from outcome. (Only the very impatient can understand the power of patience).

9. To frame the question, the challenge, in the pursuit of which the client can discover their next brilliance.

10. To be fully present and engaged in your own growth while helping the client grow.

11. To remove blockages.

12. To follow the energy as it leads to the next breakthrough.

13. To help ‘channel’ the collective intelligence available in the room.

14. To stay intact, impartial, and unattached.

15. To delight in the clients success.

© Aviv Shahar

Never Run Empty

Never run to the bottom of the tank. It is the most dangerous thing that you can do. When you use yourself to the very last drop of energy and willingness, you start using up a precious energy that was not meant to be used. The last drop of energy is a crucial safety reservoir to be retained for self maintenance, to fuel your recovery and daily replenishment. Running to the bottom and then running on empty is dangerous. You make yourself brittle and susceptible to illness.

Make it a point to notice the red light on your energy dashboard.  Work on building your resilience and recoverability reservoirs. Never run Empty.

© Aviv Shahar

Spray Falls

Mowich Lake:

Mount Rainier:

Spray Falls:

Mount Rainier:

Mountain Meadows:

Mowich Lake:

© Aviv Shahar

Tough Times Bring Opportunities

Good times present great opportunities. Tough times present a great many opportunities too. How do you approach challenging times? What opportunities do you find in tough times?
Here are ten things you can do in tough times:

1. Learn new skills.
2. Take time to explore ideas, places and possibilities that looked impossible previously.
3. Stay well, fit and healthy. Discipline yourself to engage regularly in your preferred sport or exercise. Maintain good nutritional balance.
4. Sharpen your focus on what matters.
5. Reinvent what you do and how you do it.
6. Discover alliances that are based in true value and trust.
7. Re-examine your beliefs: do they stand the test of the times? Do they deliver you to the right place in yourself? Test new assumptions about life, about work and about business.
8. Clarify the difference between ‘musts’ and ‘wants’.
9. Let go, forgive and enjoy.
10. Discover that there is no reason for fear – here you are in tough times and you are managing, it is not the end of the world.

© Aviv Shahar

Yellowstone Fire On Wall Street?

The three Ds—the three legged stool of the prosperity economics since WWII—were: the Dollar, the Debt economy and the Drive of entrepreneurialism.

1. The Dollar offered a stable monitory framework. Its universal reserve currency status based on the Bretton Woods agreement and the belief that “the dollar was as good as gold” made for monetary stability.
2. The Debt driven economy produced a framework in which everyone could profit. It was designed in two layers. Any person or business taking a loan (going into debt) could find creative ways to turn this leverage into profit by producing goods and services that returned more than the cost of the debt. The banks were at the top to manage this leverage of borrowing money. They, of course, made the greatest profit. The banking system utilized the fractional system and monetary inflation controlled by the Federal Reserve to create opportunity for all and made profit in the process.
3. The third leg of the prosperity was the eternal Drive of ingenuity and optimism embodied in the entrepreneurial spirit. Drive was unleashed in the market of opportunities and ideas, supported by a stable dollar, debt and property rights.

Suddenly, it appears that the first two legs are breaking down. The dollar status has been shaken. The debt derivatives economy has been stretched to the point where it had no choice but to snap. It snapped like the Yellowstone Fire of 1988. This is the meaning of the Fannie and Freddy government takeover this weekend. All of a sudden everyone is deleveraging – trying to exit debt and replace it with cash and the system crumbles.

Why did it take 60-80 years for the big stock market cycle to suddenly change? Active earning and investing life spans usually average some 40 years. One and a half to twice this duration is enough to eradicate institutional memory. That’s when the system snaps and the rules of the game shift.

What can the Yellowstone Fires of 1988 teach us?
On August 20, 1988, a day now referred to as “Black Saturday”, gigantic firestorms in Yellowstone sent flames as high as 200 feet into the air. These fires grew so large that they created their own wind. Smoke plumes pushed up to 30,000 feet. Many people, including leading ecologists thought that Yellowstone would never recover or that it would take hundreds of years for its fauna and flora to populate the park again. Here is what scientists learned and what it can teach us about the deleveraging fire storm on Wall Street.

1. Expect a lot more pain as a result of the great deleveraging of Wall Street – The Yellowstone fire burned more than half the total acreage of the park. 793,000 acres were affected by fire and bout 300 large mammals perished.

2. The Treasury efforts to contain the crisis will help some come out better but it’s overall impact will be limited – The 1988 firefighting efforts included 25,000 people, the largest in U.S. history. 120 million dollars were spent. This huge effort saved human life and property, but had little impact on the fire itself.

3. The natural cycle of deleveraging will run its natural course – The advance of the 1988 fire was finally stopped in September by rain and snow.

4. An amazing new cycle of innovation and opportunities will be unleashed – The Yellowstone fires created a mosaic of burned and unburned areas that provided new habitats for plants and animals and new realms for research.

5. When the deleveraging cycle has finally run its course and everybody is exhausted and depressed, recovery will be faster and stronger than anyone imagines – In Yellowstone Park, seeds released from pinecones took root almost immediately. Lodgepole pine seedlings began to grow at the rate of an inch or two per year. Wildflowers were abundant by the following spring, and the grasses and shrubs were green and flourishing.

6. Certain sectors and businesses will benefit from the deleveraging cycle and will come out on top – In Yellowstone some of the grasses that the elk needs were more nutritious after the fire. Bears grazed more frequently in burned sites than they did in unburned sites. The fires have had no observable impact on the number of grizzly bears in greater Yellowstone. Cavity-nesting birds, such as bluebirds, had more dead trees for their nests. Nutrients from the ash caused the vegetation to prosper and grasslands returned to pre-fire appearance within a few years. Aspen reproduction has increased because fire stimulated the growth of suckers from the aspen’s underground root system and left behind bare mineral soil that provided good conditions for aspen seedlings.

7. A major economical shift takes place every 60 to 80 years. This is part of the cycle of life – In Yellowstone, the fires turned out to be a necessary and beneficial part of the natural cycle of life, death, and re-birth.

© Aviv Shahar

Presidential Reptilian Shock

You are much more than your reptilian brain! In the course of evolution, the human brain developed the limbic and then the cerebral cortex to support the complex functions of analysis, appreciative evaluation and feelings, and all that the human mind can reach for and understand from art to science, from relationship to religion and more.

Why do the candidates insist on talking to our reptilian brain? Why are most messages on TV designed to trigger a reptilian reaction?

You guessed it – it sells! Scare them. Shock them. Frighten them. Stimulate the reptilian fear and sex instincts or it won’t sell!

Why are the political campaigns and their pundits reduced to reptilian sound bites on both sides? Do they think that we are so stupid to not see and understand we are being manipulated? Do they believe that electing a president is a reptilian choice? Do they think “We The People” will use reptilian reflexes to pull a lever or mark a ballot box?

If the presidential test is reduced to crowd control, mobilizing mob hysteria and inciting an “us versus them” herd reflex, which is what the campaigns on both sides can be seen to be promoting, then the biggest loser is the American public and the possibility of a dialogue – an open limbic and cerebral conversation.

What do you do if you are not a Democrat and not a Republican? We have yet to find a good replacement for this bipartisan placeholder. Democracy merits better solutions – so why is the political discourse insisting on insulting our intelligence and turning what could be invigorating and inspiring into a sequel to beach volleyball at the Summer Olympics?

What’s the 21st century challenge? How do we exercise democracy that is more advanced than a gladiator fight in the coliseum?

© Aviv Shahar

The KEY: Mindsets For Tough Times

What’s the most important mindset you need to have when facing tough times? There is plenty of doom talk all around. The economy, oil, war, financial meltdown, GM, Fannie and Freddy – you name it. The good news is the world is not coming to an end tomorrow. But abrupt changes are underway. These changes bring with them challenges filled with opportunities.

How do you react when you’re faced with a challenge?

People approach tough times with unproductive mindsets that assume the worst for themselves and those around them or with productive mindsets. The key, the most important thing to know – the most important mindset to have – is that you have the power to choose your mindset. It’s easy to fall into a number of unproductive mindsets, but you can learn the signs and practice shifting and reframing these into productive mindsets.

Click here to find out about the unproductive and the productive mindsets you can choose when faced with a challenge.

© Aviv Shahar

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