Archive for the 'Know Thyself' Category

Choose Three Words

Here we go… the world did not end on 12/21/2012, and a new birth of possibilities is in front of us all. The human story is one of resilience. If I had to choose one word to characterize the human spirit, it would be resilience.

I am in the business of learning and co-creating the future. Every year, at the end of December I challenge myself to tell the story of the year in three words. For 2012 my three words are: surprise, rethinking, overcoming.

Surprise forced me to rethink how I can help and create significant value. Rethinking led to overcoming setbacks and challenges, and it opened the door to opportunities that I did not see.

Upon reflection, I’ve seen this theme all around me this year: surprise, rethinking and overcoming.

I then ask if I can intuit a theme for the coming year. For 2013 the three words that presented themselves are: listening, elevation, creativity.

I see cross currents and conflicting short- and long-term trends ahead that require deep listening, which opens renewal and growth pathways to new elevations. At a higher elevation we are able to see what we were incapable of seeing before. And at a higher elevation we find new capabilities, creativity and the potential to unlock previously unimagined possibilities.

Now try this yourself by playing a game with friends over the holiday. Ask them to describe the essence of 2012 in three words. See if a pattern emerges. Then ask them to intuit the coming year in three words. See if the answers provide insight into how to set yourself up for success in 2013.

I am interested in hearing about your three words for 2012 and your three words for 2013. Please share your insights.

Kind regards,


Separate Three Kinds of Anxiety

You need to separate the three kinds of anxiety that exist in people and that you encounter when you meet with them:

Situational anxiety occurs when you face a challenge you are not sure how to handle.

Chronic anxiety occurs as a result of an ongoing condition that you cannot resolve or reverse and which can bring unpredictable consequences out of your control.

Existential anxiety occurs as the world shape-shifts around you and the paradigms (software) you were used to using no longer work.

With situational anxiety take action to change the situation.

With chronic anxiety you need to bring external help to boost your strength and to create leverage to shift the equilibrium and create a new dynamic.

Existential anxiety is a sign we must grow and evolve to find ourselves anew. You need to download a new upgrade and activate a new and updated you to unleash new opportunities.

© Aviv Shahar

Casting Your Net

Our upcoming KEY, titled Cast Your Net explores the three speeds of the mind and invites you to use October, November and December to reflect on learning and focus on opportunities. Here are a series of questions I use in my cast-up process which you can adopt and customize to your needs. I encourage you to copy these to a working document or print them out and journal about them:

  1. What have I observed and learned this last year?
  2. What have I enjoyed and found satisfying?
  3. What helped me gain new perspective? What surprised me? How did I surprise myself?
  4. Looking at all the situations and the roles I participate in, where do I draw energy? What challenges me into new growth? Where and how do I make a difference?
  5. What calls for balancing? What needs are not well served?
  6. Reflecting on my space and the environments I create, what do I no longer need? What can I clear out of the way to make space for something new?
  7. Reflecting on all my circles: 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?
  8. Looking at all that I do, what am I doing that I no longer need to do? What am I ready to stop doing?
  9. What do I want to learn? What new skills and capabilities do I want to develop?
  10. Forgiveness is the greatest act of self-love. What am I prepared to forgive?
  11. What new growth opportunities will excite and energize me? What will absolutely exhilarate me?
  12. If I knew I could not fail, what would I start doing today?
  13. What risks am I ready to take? Where am I ready to step into new unknown territories?
  14. What support system will I create? What new habits will I build to support my endeavors?
  15. What will make me very proud next year?

Cast your net for the year coming to build readiness and engage opportunities.

© Aviv Shahar

What Are You Here For?

Participants in our seminars tell us that these are the most memorable and empowering experiences they have ever had because of the clear sense of purpose they find during the event. Each manager peels their own onion to find purpose and to discover the words that hold its meaning and essence.

The journey to discover purpose includes a series of steps and explorations. Reflecting on the question of what we are here for is the key. Here are 10 themes to start your exploration into – what are you here for?

1.    To listen, observe and learn.
2.    To serve the needs you meet.
3.    To do what’s most difficult for you to do.
4.    To do what is easiest and most natural for you to do.
5.    To enjoy and create joy.
6.    To first, do no harm and to wait patiently.
7.    To make the higher choices.
8.    To expand your range and develop versatility.
9.    To connect and to make meaning.
10.    To transform and to lead.

The tree knows what it is here for. It’s here to grow. The tiger knows what it is here for. It’s here to get its next meal and to raise its young. The tree and the tiger are locked into their purpose. You have the benefit of choice and of range. What are you here for?

© Aviv Shahar

Are You A Meg Ryan Or A Meryl Streep?

Before I make my point, let me say, I like both of them. I like Meryl Streep and I like Meg Ryan. Each is beautiful and great in her own unique way. The point is that each represents an archetype. Meg Ryan is the same person regardless of the character she plays. Meryl Streep is distinctly unique and different in each character she plays. Meg Ryan’s authenticity is expressed in being herself in each role she assumes. Meryl Streep stays authentic by becoming the character she plays. It is not about good and bad, we love both. The question is, what works for you.

Before you say I hate Meg Ryan or I don’t like Meryl Streep, think again. Are you a different person as you move through the roles and situations of your life? Or do you stay the same regardless of the situation? This is not about your likes and dislikes on the movie screen. If you are the same person wherever you are, then you are in the “Meg Ryan” tribe. If you change, adapt and shape shift like a chameleon you are part of the “Meryl Streep” tribe.

Okay, here is my bias. We know that Meryl Streep is the queen of the screen. She is really in a league of her own. But if you try to be a “Meryl Streep” in your life you run two risks. First, the risk of mixing roles — acting one role when you interact with a group wherein you normally operate under another role. The second risk is that you may be “found out” and be perceived by some to be inauthentic when they see you take on a different role, act in a different capacity to the one they have seen you in previously.

As a consultant I work at being adaptive. When I facilitate a strategy summit I ask the unasked questions. I need to turn on a dime when I teach. In the teaching mode I may speak with enthusiasm for two or three hours straight. As a teacher the focus is on transferring experience, knowledge and the energetic vitamins that will help people connect up with new possibility and meaning, and take action. As a strategy consultant the focus is on helping the executive access new ideas and insight, and frame options. Coaching one CEO may be very different to coaching another. Each extracts a different voice out of me. One situation calls for validation, another for challenge. At times, silence opens the way forward and other times, shouting with passion shocks us into a new direction. It is more than style of presentation. It’s about stepping into a different role, where what’s needed is different. A different mode. A different speed. Different insights. A different conversation. Even different brain chemistry. Each situation creates and needs a different response. It is almost being a different person in a different space. That is doing a “Meryl Streep”. It is a mastery of a special kind.

On this blog I speak in few voices. They all come out of the same person, but they address different issues and are directed at different groups I associate and work with. What is the unifying thread? I seek to help you improve your situation. To open a new perspective. To encourage new thinking, growth and development. Is it smart to use multiple voices? I don’t know. It is easier to have just one voice. To be one thing in all situations. Branding 101 says: be consistent. Stay on message. Focus on a niche. One inch wide and go a mile deep. Become known for one thing. Be the strategy guru. The sales expert. The CEO coach. The leadership specialist or the talent expert. The Chutzpa guy. The wise sage. The creative thinker. This is the smart branding and marketing strategy.

The question is what works for you? What are you here to do and be? Are you here to do a “Meg Ryan” or a “Meryl Streep”? The freedom of Ryan is you can just be you. The freedom of Streep is that you can be anything you need to be. You can be many people and many things.

I love both but I’ve chosen Streep over Ryan in my journey. It affords me the range and freedom to live on purpose in a versatile way. To serve many situations and people. To learn and engage with a great diversity and to discover the different “voices” and “lives” that are called out of me.

© Aviv Shahar


Freedom is in not wanting to live any other person’s life. It is in living your own life at full, here and now and not anyone else’s.

© Aviv Shahar

Life Is About Choices

You make choices all the time. This winter my experience has been very different from previous winters. Why? Because of choices we made. For the last two months we have been working out of Southern Florida. Woodinville, our home near Seattle experienced six unusual waves of snow fall and colder days than normal. Not much of a global warming there. But we were down here in the sunshine state, away from home in our alternate choice of residence. We replaced the freezing cold with daily swims and walks in the sun. Life is about choices. My choice was to finally walk my talk. Do what’s good for my health and what brings me energy. The writing was on the wall for some time. We decided to take action. For me, choosing to spend the winter in Florida will likely add another 10 or 15 productive years to my life.

My question to you is – What choices that you know you have to make are you holding back from making?

© Aviv Shahar

What Wakes You Up?

What wakes you up? Is it the alarm clock? Or are you awaken by the task you have taken, by the mission you serve, by a dream you are here to realize?

Do you wake up by an opportunity or by fear?

Remember days when you woke up with the excitement of what you will learn today? What adventure excites you when you wake up now? What do you hope to discover, to realize, to transform?

© 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

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

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