Archive for November, 2008

The KEY: Extraordinary Encounters At 32,000+

This KEY is about two extraordinary encounters. It’s my way of encouraging you to spend quality time, have meaningful conversations and give thanks this Thanksgiving.

Being raised in Israel, Thanksgiving was not part of my upbringing. We discovered and made this giving of thanks a family tradition when we came to the US. Whether you live in the US and celebrate Thanksgiving or not, you can create your own ceremony of giving thanks. We sit around the table and tell stories about special things that happened to us this year and what we choose to give thanks for. In these times of anxiety and uncertainty, appreciating all that is good and the blessings of your life can strengthen and reassure you that better days are ahead.

Here are two stories I’m going tell around the Thanksgiving dinner about special conversations I had this November. Click here to read about my extraordinary encounters at 32,000 plus.

© Aviv Shahar

Your Greatest Asset

What is your greatest asset? Who holds the key to your organization’s future?

It was a late Friday when the phone rang. I recognized the voice immediately. We had worked with Pete earlier in the year. Pete enjoyed our collaboration, it delivered exceptional results and helped his team coalesce and accelerate growth. He was a diligent and successful executive, known for getting things done and for his commitment to his people. He sounded concerned and urgent.

Pete: “Some of our best managers are exhausted, worn out. I am afraid we are going to lose a few great people.”

Me: “What’s going on? Why do you feel that you are going to lose good people?”

Pete: “I don’t know. I am not even sure who might be leaving. It’s been tough. They have all been working very hard. I just get the sense of burn out. Frankly, I cannot afford to lose my top managers.”

Pete continued and we explored together what was going on. We focused on the struggle of the leadership team in the challenging business environment.

Me: “How can I help?”

Pete: “If you can help us create a strategy that will retain our key people; encourage a sense of renewal and fresh commitment and find a way to help us re-energize full engagement of our team it would be huge. It will help us achieve our numbers. Not only will we save a lot of money on searching and replacing key managers, it will keep our talent here rather than with our competitors. It takes 12 to 18 months to replace an exceptional performer. That is if you are lucky.”

Pete asked that we design an effective talent retention and development program. He wanted to make sure his top people, the managers with exceptional talent get the best there is – a powerful development program with high energy and a fun experience. “We need to develop our vision, build the strength of our culture, cultivate impactful leadership and help our people in their personal growth.”

“And you want the ribs and the thirteen layer chocolate cake too?” We had a good laugh and agreed on next steps. A few weeks later we met with a top talent group to begin to learn and practice the Emerald Keys.

The ROI was phenomenal. Pete had successfully rallied his teams to exceed their objectives. Managers coached each other and improved retention throughout the organization. In tough times many executives freeze. Pete realized that uncertain environment presented opportunities. He made a critical decision to invest in his people and got his return. A new momentum was created. His teams moved to execute the strategy with energy and focus. Accelerated growth followed.

In times of challenge, your greatest and most essential assets are your top talent. These high potentials help you bounce back from setbacks and produce breakthrough ideas and innovations. They deliver results, make the impossible possible, and create your organization’s future. As a leader there is no greater return on investment than developing your top talent and nurturing new leaders. The ROI comes in huge multiples. Happy and energized managers produce fully engaged teams, attract great clients and accelerate your business growth.

What is the leader’s blind spot?
It is taking your high performers and top talents for granted. Assuming they will always be there – assuming they will always deliver for you and that you do not need to invest back in them. It is the biggest mistake executives make and eventually regret.

Our Top Talent and High Potential programs are customized to your unique organization. Call or email us to find out about a customized Talent Development program for your teams!

The Emerald Keys are a set of principles and core beliefs tested and proven by exceptionally successful people. Through the study and practice of these keys you find your sweet spot, realize your greater capacities and attract to yourself the inner harmonies of success in life and at work.

© Aviv Shahar

How is your Lemonade?

In a leadership summit we facilitated last week, a Chinese speaking bright strategist and a highly competent executive from Taiwan reminded us that in Chinese, the written character that speaks of danger and risk also contains the character of opportunity. We were all reminded by his observation that when life dishes out lemons you are there to make the best lemonade in town. Here is a little addition:
Lemons = tough challenges (which contain opportunities).
Water & Sugar = your relationships – family, friends, clients, peers, team, community, support network… (In tough times, your relationships are everything.)
Squeezer = your creativity, innovation, gumption, resilience, courage and sense of humor.

How is your Lemonade?

© Aviv Shahar

The Value Of A Strategy Summit

What Executives say about the experience and value of a Strategy Summit…

Roger Bhalla

Tom Mitchell

Carol Hess-Nickels

David Conrad

Jonathan Kaye

Melissa Bargainer

Matt Wagner

© Aviv Shahar

The ATP Power

Beware Of Despair – A Coaching Brief

The true meaning of despair is separation from purpose—the sense that you are unable to realize your mission – that there is no way for you to engage in your life affirming purpose.  Two roads cross the juncture of despair. One leads into fatigue, depression and apathy; the other leads to awakening and renewal. The first diminishes the life force; the second rekindles the essence of life.

Cellular energy, biologists tell us, is carried and released by ATP (Adenosine – triphosphate). “ATP is a multi-functional nucleotide that is a carrier of “molecular currency” of intracellular energy transfer. In this role, ATP transports chemical energy within cells for metabolism. It is produced as an energy source during the processes of photosynthesis and cellular respiration.” In short, ATP is the energy potential of the cell. It brings to the cell the energy to engage in its function and do all that it needs to do.

What about you? What gives you energy to engage in your functions and do all that you need to do? What is your whole-person (beyond cellular) ATP?

In our coaching work with high performers they find that their whole-person ATP – the energy potential they can realize and release is a function of Alignment-To-Purpose.  Your whole-person ATP is in your Alignment- and Adherence-To-Purpose.  Despair and depression are the signs of ultimate loss of Alignment To Purpose (ATP). Awakening and renewal are found in reconnection and realignment to purpose.

To acquire cellular ATP, Adenosine – triphosphate, you need a balanced nutrition.

Finding and ongoing-ly calibrating your Alignment-To-Purpose is central to the personal development journey and to the process of coaching. You develop self awareness and insight to what energizes you, to your intuition and to what nourishes your purpose. You get sensitized to the Being and Doing of purpose and discover the relationships of the higher, the lower and the middle. You examine the personal and professional aspects of your life to create and arrange your optimal Living On Purpose.

© Aviv Shahar

Souls On Deck – A Brief

Here are a few gems (compiled in brief format) spoken by the people present in our recent Souls On Deck circle – a group of pioneering practitioners, poets, space makers, agents and catalysts of emergence and healing:

“History gets in the way of our aspirations and possibilities.”

Questions from Dale Nienow to reflect on to help us move into presence here and now:

  • What do I need to let go of in order for this group to flourish?
  • What do you need from this community to show up fully with your gifts?

Series of process Insights:

  1. Notice what is going on.
  2. Name it. Make us aware.
  3. Honor history. Respect the journey.
  4. Find where you are meant to be.
  5. Attend to emergence.
  6. Let go of what holds you back from showing up at full.
  7. Create a space for others to flourish without becoming invisible.
  8. Tend to legacy.
  9. Take care of yourself. Your story matters.
  10. Listen to what is spoken. See what we are being shown.

Model Implementation – Four Phases

If your passion is to help leaders realize their brilliance, consulting is a great profession. What’s the difference between a subject matter expert and a process expert? The first needs to impress the client with what they know. The second needs to help the client impress themselves with their own latent knowledge by helping the client access and realize it. The fun part of getting to do and be in the second role is that you get to work with brilliant people – the Olympic champions of their field. Imagine getting to sit in on Lance Armstrong’s bike or run in Usain Bolt’s shoes? I get to experience that kind of exhilaration.

We are currently collaborating with Matt Wagner, Director of Strategy and Planning for Hewlett-Packard and his team to evaluate plausible futures as the executive team determines optimal strategic investments options. The strategy team developed a new model to guide this process. Here is an insight provoked by the process:

The implementation of a new model – for evaluation of risk, for decision making or for anything else – needs to go through four stages.

First, it needs to make sense – we need to understand it.
Second, it needs to become credible – we need to believe it.
Third, it needs to be tried and played with – we need to engage in it.
Fourth, it needs to be applied – we need to put it to practice, to use it in real time and to have it guide our decisions and the way we do business

Through the process, the model is tested, refined, improved and optimized.

© Aviv Shahar

Where Do You Start – Life Strategies

Here are three ways to begin—three starting strategies.
1. Fly to the easiest spot
2. Face the toughest part head-on
3. Chunk the whale into parts

The first strategy is best applied when you face a new domain or task that may seem difficult at first. This strategy is useful in the following cases:
1. Crossword puzzles
2. Exams
3. Networking a room full of strangers
4. A visit to a new country
5. Tidying up a messy house
The first strategy is to find the easiest entry or starting point. Identify the least challenging entry point and quickly move towards it. It will help you warm up and relax into doing the rest. As you warm up, you begin to flow. New doors open up once you begin to engage. Next steps reveal themselves as you ease into action. The system’s intelligence begins to surrender to you and guide your next moves. The wisdom of this strategy is that it doesn’t matter where you begin, as long as you do.

The second strategy
is to address the greatest challenge head-on. You apply this strategy when dealing with matters of life and death, when it is critical to address the greatest threat and danger without delay. This works when the most urgent relates to the most important and you must face it head-on. There are other situations, where beginning with the toughest challenge is the way to go, even if a time factor is not involved.  Resolving a conflict is an example. The toughest thing in the world may be to get the two parties involved together in the same room. And that is exactly what you need to do. Faced with a communication breakdown, you begin at the toughest point.

For example, you could say: “look, I know you hate me, you might even want to kill me but we’ve got to be able to talk.” It can be difficult or scary to say but you present the other person with a choice: they can say: “I don’t hate you at all.” Or they can say: “It’s true; I hate you for what you’ve done” or they may say, “Don’t be ridiculous, I would not dream of hurting you in a million years.” Once you have said the worst, the toughest thing that can be said, it is not so difficult anymore. Plus, you are now talking. When two people are talking and listening to each other, hate and anger begin to melt.

The third strategy is used for large and complex projects where you can’t just begin right away because it is simply impossible to swallow the whole whale in one go or you can’t even see how big the whale is. Your approach then is to develop a plan, in which the big project is broken down into smaller projects and these are then broken out into more manageable tasks that can be planned as a series of activities on a time line. This approach is used for designing and building a house, for a large engineering project like building a bridge or an airplane and you may choose this approach for writing a book. If you need to plant a forest of trees, plant them one tree at a time.

The criterion to choosing your starting strategy is to find the point of greatest leverage. In certain situations the greatest leverage is the third strategy: Plan your work and then work your plan. In others, the greatest leverage is in addressing the toughest issue and facing head-on the biggest threat. And in some circumstances, your best leverage is the first strategy of finding the easiest entry point.
Reflect on what you have recently started. What strategy did you employ? Share with us your starting strategies and successes and what worked well for you.

© Aviv Shahar

Are You Generating Value?

In good times and in tough times, the surest and safest tactic is to become the best value generator you can be.

Here are ten things you can do to generate and bring great value to your stakeholders.

  1. Be clear about the most important – the vital things.
  2. Identify the key people you serve.
  3. Learn their concerns, needs and issues.
  4. Don’t let not knowing inhibit you – ask questions to better understand until you feel you do understand.
  5. Develop versatility in your communication. Over-communicate.
  6. Practice situational awareness – What makes the people around you excel? What are their data-processing preferences? What are their decision-making styles? What will offer the best help?
  7. Think and reason for yourself. Develop and express a viewpoint.
  8. Take initiatives. Stake a position. You learn more and are more engaged once you have staked out a position. You learn most by helping others.
  9. Seek feedback. Never take criticism or rejection personally. Continue to improve and optimize.
  10. Find a mentor or a coach.

© Aviv Shahar

Your Worst Enemy

Your worst enemy is thinking that you don’t matter, that there is nothing you can do that makes a difference. This thought shuts off your mind and suffocates your soul. Thinking your life doesn’t have meaning or that you don’t mean anything is when something begins to die in you.  Here is the truth. Everything you do matters. Everything you cause to happen matters.   Everything you are matters. Yes, you matter!
© Aviv Shahar

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