Archive for the ‘Community involvement’ Category

Goals and a Tour de France cycling trip

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

I am just back from cycling parts of the Tour de France with Adventure Travel.  We biked most of the big climbs and although I’d trained a lot by my standards, it was still long and challenging.  Given that my cycling is in the category of ‘weekend warrior’, biking those climbs gave me plenty of time to reflect on the challenges of working towards goals.

From the depths of huffing and puffing, here are my thoughts:

  1. Whilst your goal can seem totally daunting when you gaze up at it, once you really set out  it is never quite as hard as it look.
  2. You may be slow, but when you have committed to the goal, it really is a matter of just keeping on doing what you have to do until you get there.
  3. Take all the advice you can get – you never know what small thing can make a big difference.
  4. Find some spectators to offer encouragement – they help enormously.
  5. When you finally make it to the top, take the time to look back down where you came from – wow what a feeling of satisfaction!

Are humans really ‘groupies’?

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

We all understand the need for us to connect at some level with others ,at home or in our workplace. We have family groups,work groups and masses of other activities ranging from sporting to self help groups.

I recently went to a workshop where Dave Winsborough talked about the instinctive behaviour of people in crisis. He called it ‘cohesion in crisis’. Cohesion_in_Calamity_HRINZMag2011 (2) If you recall the pictures on TV of strangers helping each other during the February earthquake in Christchurch working  together as a sense as a team without giving thought to their own danger.

The need for people to instictively reach out and group together as we have done since mankind began. This grouping behaviour seems to have other implications.

You will also recall a certain  recent fiasco with Mr Weiner and his odd pictures of himself sent to women who had apparently never met him. So called celebrities tweeting their vacuous thoughts to any one who will listen. Are they seeking to connect and be part of a global group?

So what makes the difference between a group and someone seeking a group?…well maybe not too much.We all need to find others who we can connect with,whether it be in a time of crisis or just an everyday feeling of need

There is  truth in the saying “Individually we are one drop.Together we are an ocean”

Everyone (well almost everyone) likes a good news story

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

The infamous Tui ads have  judged our mood so well, as they usually do.  The one I saw recently was “Even if I got an invitation to the royal wedding I wouldn’t go “.  “Yeah right!”   It sums it all up.

The cynics had a go at ridiculing the mounting interest in the upcoming Royal Wedding by Women’s magazines and  now as the day approaches it is surprising the number of people saying they will watch the event on TV ,or at least show an interest in the spectacle of pomp and ceremony that will occur.Have a look at   The T-mobile royal wedding video

And why is this?  Is it because it stirs something in our cultural background?  Is it because it has stimulated debate about monarchy vs  Republic ,  or is just because it will be a good news event which recently we have had a dearth of?

As leaders in your organisations you will well understand how people respond to news. It is difficult with all the natural disasters that have occurred in New Zealand and globally recently to find good news stories.

 This is why it is important to motivate and stimulate your teams with stories that resonate with positive outcomes-the good news stories ,the reports of what has gone well rather than dwelling on what hasn’t. 

 You can have a good news session at the beginning of team meetings and ask your team to come up with their own.  It’s not being a pollyana it is valuing the good things that happen.

 If you look for the positive and look for the good news stories you will be surprised at the effect it has on everyone around.

 And this isn’t a “yeah right”!

The challenge of a new team

Monday, November 15th, 2010

It’s Monday morning and and I am feeling chuffed at achieving a stretch goal we had. After only a few months we managed to perform a short concert without embarrassing ourselves, in fact sounding pretty good  ( if I may say so myself! ).

So what am I talking about?  About three months or so ago a group of us formed a ukulele group. The aim was to learn and develop with an instrument which apparently is easy to play.

We are a diverse group, the only criteria that links us is geographic-we all live almost in walking distance from each other.

Our skill sets range from the musically competent and confident to a couple of first timers including me.

Many of you will have found yourselves in a similar situation at work-thrust together with people from throughout the organisation. Some you know,some you don’t and all with a variety of different skills.

We have no designated leader.  Our leadership comes from the skill groups present. For example our banjo player (who is the most skilled in the group,musically) will demonstrate and share his techniques. Another in the group will start harmonising as we try out a new song and next thing others have joined in. 

We find we have emerging talents being nutured along. One chap will sing a solo while another has found her singing voice-we just need to encourage her  now to sing on her own.

What makes this work so well is we all feel safe to try out new things.  The more experienced are encouraging and offer suggestions rather than criticise.  They demonstrate rather than tell.  Their feedback is always positive.

And our stretch goal came about as a challenge from another ukulele group who were well established.  “Come and join us for a concert.We will all play a selection and then each group will show off their prowess”.     Or words to that effect.  It felt like a ‘yeah right’ moment but we decided to meet the challenge.

Boy did we practice.  We tried new ways of old songs and then practiced again and again.   Were we Carnegie hall material?  No but on Saturday night in Te Horo we played out hearts out and at the end went home on the bus feeling pretty pleased with ourselves.

You will all know that feeling of successfully accomplishing your goal. Especiallywhen its been a stretch.

So whats next?  A new challenge has been thrown into the group “Lets fill the town hall…”     Watch this space!

Caring is not just for customers

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

The recent earthquake in Christchurch  showed us that fundamental core value of caring is alive and well.  Neighbours rallied around to help each other setting up BBQs, sharing with each other and making the most of a very difficult  situation.  Organisations donated generously in both cash and goods

And yet we so often read ,or experience, situations when caring seems to have been forgotten.

Caring translates into all our dealings with people not just those closest to us.

  • When we deliver a presentation we should ‘care’ about our audience
  • When we work with clients and customers we should ‘care’ about them
  • As managers and leaders we should care about our staff.

 Yet unfortunatelyoften we get too busy ,or just plain forget to use that core value in almost all of us.

pay someone to do your homework

Roger Steare recently spoke at a meeting  and he talked passionately about the need to get back to using our core values at work. We care about the things that matter close to us -our families (and/or animals!)  and yet so often at work the culture dulls what we know is intrinsically right -the universals that make us civilised.  The too tight job description so we don’t ‘go the extra mile’.  The rules that stifle common sense

Perhaps it’s time to take stock and not wait for a disaster to bring out the best in us .We all do care  it’s now time to show it

The key to presence is being present

Friday, September 10th, 2010

A common issue for our coaching clients in the past year has been the challenge of increasing the impact of their personal presence. Their  questions are often: ‘What is this ‘presence’  thing and how do I get more of it?’

While everyone needs to be aware of their personal presence, as we take on more influential leadership roles, we  need to be even  more conscious of establishing our presence.

 The key to it is simple…..or is it?

Seek first to understand

The message isn’t new:  Great personal presence requires us first to simply be present to others – by listening to them very carefully. Steven Covey sums it up well with his quote: ‘Seek first to understand before being understood.’

This seems very straightforward, but most of us tend to go into conversations focused much more on our own point of view – what we find interesting, what we want to talk about and so on.  This approach certainly establishes presence, but of the wrong sort!  To develop a strong positive presence, we need to focus first on understanding where the other person is coming from in the conversation.  

 Active listening is the key communication tool for keeping ourselves present.  There’s a challenge though, because while listening appears to be simple, it isn’t often easy.  The process requires commitment and real discipline of our conscious thought. Sometimes we have to keep repeating to ourselves: ‘I really want to listen to this person.’  When we manage to focus in this way, we are truly present. There is a very powerful story that captures the magic of this combination in The Power of Presence and Listening: A Fellow’s Narrative by Musharraf Navaid MD, in the Journal of Palliative Medicine.

Stepping outside your comfort zone isn’t easy

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

I have recently joined (as have hundreds around the world) a ukulele group. We are all enthusiastic and love the experience of communal music.  However I am not that skilled having never played a stringed instrument in my life ,even if the uke is one of the simplest to learn.

I also have the added problem (or excuse) that I’m left handed so I have had my uke altered to make it easier for me to play.

Here is the problem-the rest of the group look at each others fingers (you need to trust me here it is part of the learning!) to help them keep up with the new chords we learn each time we meet.  It doesn’t make sense to me as mine is really upside down and back to front.  Needless to say I am persisting and sort of managing to keep up.

The better player in out group has suggested (well told me really) to  “Not look where you put your fingers on the chords but just go with the music.”     “What !” I replied, “I have to see where they go…”   .

It was one of those moments when I realised what we ask our participants to do when we are coaching  and training them in presentations.  “Put down your notes”.  “You will be fine without them” .”You know your stuff” etc etc.

How difficult it is to lose the ability to check and check again. Yes it interrupts the flow but it makes us feel better…even though I know it will sound better when I don’t peek.

How often do we as adults seek the comfort of what feels easier and safe?   To grow and succeed we do need to leave our comfort zone and take the big step of trusting to do what we know will make a difference.

So next week with the group I will endeavour not to look …it will take masses of practice at home, a lot of big breaths, but if we are going to be the best little band in Wadestown I will need to grow with the others and step outside my comfort zone.

Stay tuned for the next chapter…

Migrant staff struggling with NZ workplace communications

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Do you have ESOL staff who find it difficulty with the subtleties of NZ  workplace communication?  cialis 5mg Now there’s an excellent practical book available called ‘Workplace Talk in Action: An ESOL resource’  Written by Nicky Riddiford and Dr Jonathan Newton, it provides practical tips,  exercises, and dialogues on topics such as making requests, small talk, and apologising. On purchase you get the opportunity to download the relevant audio  dialogues. It is available from the university or from Vic Books

The book is based research into NZ workplace communication by the  Applied Linguistics Department.  This research has provided the basis for Nicky Riddiford’s  teaching in the  University’s very successful Skilled Migrant programme.  When I was presenting the workshop last week, I asked Nicky how she would describe the main change people have to make to manage communication in the NZ workplace. Interestingly her answer was that they have to soften their approach. Seems we’re not as straigth forward as we like to think we are! 

Through my involvement in the Rotary Club of Wellington,  I present a regular workshop titled ‘Thinking on Your Feet’.  It is always very interesting working with a group of professional people from a wide range of cultural backgrounds. Here’s me presenting the programme.

The Skilled Migrant  programme won an EEO Award last year and Rotary is very proud of its involvement.  Rotarians provide workshops on specialist topics, people to give interview practice and role play other work situations.  It helps with internships for the students and provides mentoring for the students as they graduate from the programme. a great town-gown partnership.