Tag: Personal Mastery

Staying grounded is key to balancing life and leadership

Posted on 12/07/15 by Aidan

Grounded LeadershipSuccessful leaders live complex and demanding lives. As the frequency of communication has intensified, the pace of business has increased.

Yet many of us have not learned how to deal with this. There is never enough time to do everything you want to do, because the world around you makes ever greater demands on your time. Nor will you be able to achieve a perfect balance between all aspects of your life – career, family, friends and community, and personal life. Inevitably, you will have to make trade-offs. How you do so will determine how fulfilling your life will be.

How to successfully navigate the sharing economy

Authentic leaders are aware of the importance of staying grounded. In doing so, they avoid getting too cocky during high points and forgetting who they are during low points. Spending time with family and close friends, getting physical exercise, having spiritual practices, doing community service, and returning to places where they grew up are all ways to stay grounded. This grounding is essential to their effectiveness as leaders because it enables them to preserve their authenticity.

To avoid letting professional commitments dominate their time, authentic leaders must give priority to their families and take care of themselves personally, in terms of their health, recreation, spirituality, and introspection. There is no silver-bullet solution to this issue, but neglecting to integrate the facets of life can derail you. To lead an integrated life, you need to bring together the major elements of your personal life and professional life, including work, family, community, and friends, so that you can be the same person in each environment. For authentic leaders, being true to themselves by being the same person at work that they are at home is a constant test, yet personal fulfilment is their ultimate reward. Doing so will make you a more effective leader in all aspects of your life.

Stay Grounded

To integrate your life, you must remain grounded in your authentic self, especially when the outside world is chaotic. Well-grounded leaders have a steady and confident presence. They do not show up as one person one day and another the next. Integration takes discipline, particularly during stressful times, when it is easy to become reactive and slip into bad habits.

Leading is high-stress work. There is no way to avoid stress when you are responsible for people, organizations, outcomes, and uncertainties of the environment. For global leaders, long overseas trips intensify the stress. The higher you go, the greater your freedom to control your destiny but also the higher the stress. The question is not whether you can avoid stress but how you can manage and relieve it to maintain your own sense of equilibrium.

When Medtronic’s Chris O’Connell gets stressed, he said:

“I feel myself slipping into a negative frame of mind. When I’m at my best, I’m very positive and feel I can accomplish anything, both at work and home. When I become negative, I lose effectiveness as a leader and become even less effective at home. Both positive and negative emotions carry over between work and home.”

Focus on What Matters

When Sheryl Sandberg worked as a McKinsey management consultant, her manager implored her to take more control over her career, telling her, “McKinsey will never stop making demands on our time, so it is our responsibility to draw the line … We need to determine how many hours we are willing to work and how many nights we travel.”

After the birth of her son, Sandberg adjusted her in-office hours at Google to 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., enabling her to nurse her son. To compensate, Sandberg got up in the early morning hours to check e-mails and worked at home after her son went to bed. She learned that by focusing her time, she did not need to spend 12 hours a day in the office.

“I focused on what really mattered and became more efficient, only attending meetings that were truly necessary. I was determined to maximize my output while away from home,” said Sandberg. “I also paid more attention to the working hours of those around me; cutting unnecessary meetings saved time for them as well.”

Stay true to your roots

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz goes back to Brooklyn from time to time, Intuit Chairman Bill Campbell stays in regular contact with his old friends in Homestead, Penn., which helps him keep perspective on life in Silicon Valley. To restore themselves and keep their sense of perspective, leaders may have a special place they can go with their families on weekends and vacations. Many renowned leaders found they can think more clearly when they escape: Thomas Jefferson had Poplar Forest and Winston Churchill had Chartwell. For decades, former U.S. secretary of state George Shultz and his wife went to an old family farm they own in Massachusetts.

“I once told the president, ‘This is my Camp David,’” said Shultz. “When I go there, I put on an old pair of pants and old shoes. I am so relaxed, I don’t worry about anything.”

Find time for yourself

To manage the stress of our leadership roles, we need personal time to reflect. Some people practise meditation or yoga to centre themselves and relieve anxiety. Others find solace in prayer. Some people find they can release tension by jogging. Others find relief through laughing with friends, listening to music, reading, or going to movies. It’s not important what you do, as long as you establish routines to relieve your stress and think clearly about life, work, and personal issues. It is critical not to abandon these routines when facing an especially busy period, because that is when you most need your stress reduction techniques.

From Discover Your True North, Expanded and Updated Edition by Bill George. Copyright (c) 2015 by Bill George. Bill George is a senior fellow at Harvard Business School and former chairman and CEO of Medtronic.

Emotional Intelligence and Teams

Posted on 11/07/15 by Aidan

autonomy1For the past twenty years, important research has been done in organizations that backs up the claims made in the nineties relating to Emotional Intelligence and its importance by Goleman and many others. Research has shown that feelings and emotions have a direct impact on effectiveness, efficiency and ultimately the bottom line.

Emotional Intelligence has been shown to lead to better customer retention and long term customer relationships, and improved: Trust, Engagement, Influencing, Collaboration, Communication, Decision Making and Change Capability it also leads to Reduced Conflict.

Numerous studies explore the financial implication of emotional intelligence; particularly how higher EQ leaders produce more powerful business results. One such study tested 186 executives on EQ and compared their scores with their company’s profitability; leaders who scored higher in key aspects of emotional intelligence (including empathy and accurate self-awareness) were more likely to be highly profitable.  Leadership and Organization Development Journal 2009

Looking at the emotional intelligence of teams is important because most of the work in organizations today is done by teams. Leaders have a pressing need today to make teams work together better.

Modern businesses thrive when using teams to organize the work. Teams have more talent and experience, more diversity of resources, and greater operating flexibility than individual performers. Research in the last decade has proven the superiority of group decision-making over that of even the brightest individual in
the group. But the exception to this rule is when the group lacks harmony or the ability to cooperate. Then decision-making quality and speed suffer.

The important difference between effective teams and ineffective ones lies in the emotional intelligence of  the group. Teams have an emotional intelligence of their own. It is comprised of the emotional intelligence of individual members, plus a collective competency of the group. Everyone contributes to the overall level of emotional intelligence, and the leader has more influence. The good news is that teams can develop greater emotional intelligence and boost their performance.Teamwork performance improved by 25% in terms of goal achievement over standard functioning teams.

Most research has focused on identifying the tasks and processes that make teams successful. But just learning a script won’t make a good actor great; the actor has to be able to deliver the lines with real feeling. A piano student can learn the music of Bach, but she has to be able to play with heart to be really good. Successful teams can apply the principles of effective task processes, but they must also work together wholeheartedly.

Trust, Identity and Efficacy

In an article entitled “Building the Emotional Intelligence of groups,” Vanessa Urch Druskat and Steven B. Wolff (Harvard Business Review, March 2001) identify three conditions essential to a group’s effectiveness:

  • Trust among members
  • A sense of group identity
  • A sense of group efficacy

To be most effective, the team needs to create emotionally intelligent norms — the attitudes and behaviors that eventually become habits — that support behaviors for building trust, group identity and group efficacy. Group identity is described as a feeling among members that they belong to a unique and worthwhile group. A sense of group efficacy is the belief that the team can perform well and that group members are more effective working together than apart.

Group emotional intelligence is not a question of catching emotions as they bubble up and then suppressing them. It involves courageously bringing feelings out into the open and dialoging about how they affect the team’s work. If emotions are avoided, there is a false or superficial tone that “everything’s just fine.” Groups cannot work together without having personalities that butt up against each other. Admitting to this is the first step in clarifying and finding common ground upon which to move forward.

Group emotional intelligence is also about behaving in ways that build relationships both inside and outside the team. Building relationships strengthens the team’s ability to face challenges. In order to strengthen relationships, the group must feel safe to be able to explore, embrace and ultimately to rely on emotions in work. Emotions must be considered for the good of the group. Feelings count, but then there are the tasks at hand and the work that needs to be done. Team leaders must constantly balance harmony with productivity.

A team’s effectiveness can depend on how well it works together in harmony. A leader skilled in creating good feelings can keep cooperation high. Good team leaders know how to balance the focus on productivity with attention to member’s relationships and their ability to connect. There is even research that shows that humor at work can stimulate creativity, open lines of communications and enhance a sense of trust. Playful joking increases the likelihood of concessions during a negotiation. Emotionally intelligent team leaders know how to use humor and playfulness with their teams.

Creating good moods in employees may be even more important than previously thought. It is common sense to see that workers who feel upbeat will go the extra mile to please customers and therefore improve the bottom line. There is research to show that for every 1 percent improvement in the service climate, there’s a 2 percent increase in revenue. New research from a range of industries now reaffirms the link between leadership and climate and to business performance. According to Daniel Goleman in Primal Leadership (2002), how people feel about working at a company can account for 20 to 30 percent of business performance.

Part of understanding the emotional reality of a team is uncovering the particular habits ingrained in a team or organization that can drive behaviors. A prime example is the notion of “It’s just the way we do things here.” The team leader is effective when he or she looks for signs that reveal if such habits are working or not. It is the leader’s job to explore and expose unhealthy work habits in order to build more effective group norms.

In any group, people will eventually cross lines and confrontation becomes necessary. There must be a means for doing this that is firm yet not demeaning. The team leader sets the tone for this because of the position he or she is in. Caring confrontation is an art that can be learned and taught to both leaders and members. The use of humor can be very effective as a means for bringing errant members back into the group fold. The message is, “We want you as part of this group, your contributions are needed.”

These are the group norms that build trust and a sense of group identity for members: interpersonal understanding, perspective taking, confrontation and caring. They can be learned and developed wherever they don’t exist naturally. It may take some time and attention, but they are too important to be overlooked. Teams are at the very foundation of organizational effectiveness and they won’t work without mutual trust and common commitment to goals.

Building self-managing teams

One of the first tasks of a team leader is to build greater team awareness. This is the job of each individual member of the team, as well, but the leader’s job is to instill a sense of responsibility individuals for the well-being of the team. In order to do so, Cary Cherniss, chair of a well-known research group on emotional intelligence, puts forth ground rules for teams. Everyone on the team should take responsibility for:

  • Keeping us on track if we get off track
  • Facilitating group input
  • Raising questions about procedures, asking for clarification about where we are going and offering summaries of issues being discussed to make sure we have a shared understanding
  • Using good listening skills to build on the ongoing discussion or to clearly signal that we want to change the subject, and ask if that is okay

This is an example of how a leader can create a self-managing team. What is important for the leader, emphasizes Cherniss, is to remind the group of its collaborative norms by making them explicit. Everyone can practice them because they are upfront and repeated at each meeting.

Clearly the setting forth of core values and operating norms is important to ensure that a team works smoothly together. But like most things, they must be repeated again and again. When values and norms are clear, teams can go about their work even in the absence of the leader.
In self-aware self-managing teams, members hold each other accountable for sticking to norms. It takes a strong emotionally intelligent leader to hold the team to such responsibility. Many teams are not accustomed to proactively handling emotions and habits. And many leaders have difficulty stepping out of the role of director in order to let teams self-direct.

However, when the values and norms are clear, and self-management principles are explicit and practiced over time, teams become not only effective, but also self-reinforcing. Being on the team leads to positive emotions that energize and motivate people.

Every company faces specific performance challenges for which teams are the most practical and powerful vehicle. The critical challenge for senior managers is how to develop emotionally intelligent teams that can deliver maximum performance. Teams have a unique potential to deliver results, and executives must foster self-managing and emotionally intelligent teams that will be effective. In doing so, top management creates the kind of environment that enables teams as well as individuals to thrive. So the Organisation can thrive.

Emotional Intelligence: Forget Business School – Why An Emotional Education Is Indispensible

Posted on 07/31/14 by Aidan

Where is the HBS for emotional intelligence?

Most people still equate intelligence to academia, the power your brain has to process and remember information and your ability to draw conclusions from fact and data. But it is painfully obvious that there is much more to intelligence than just raw IQ.

How many people do you know who are academically brilliant and have degrees from the best schools, but have not managed to become successful in their professional or personal lives, despite having had many opportunities handed to them? How many times have you come across an employee who is brilliant and excels at the skill set required, but is so incapable of communicating or listening that he thwarts his own growth? How many times have you thought: “How did this idiot become so successful?” Often, the answer is linked to emotional intelligence.

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, understand, use, manage and control emotions. This not only comprises our own emotions but also those of others, including their motivations and desires. Throughout your life, from childhood to adulthood, your level of emotional intelligence affects your behavior and interaction with others: your family, your friends, your colleagues, people you don’t know, those you respect, those you want to gain respect from, those you want to impress, those you need, people you fear, people you love. Your level of emotional intelligence will determine how good you are at engaging with others and drawing them to you.

Like many children, I grew up being told by my teachers throughout school that being the best in academics, being intellectually curious and working hard would make me successful. Therefore, as a diligent student, I collected the honors and academic brand names one after the other to put on my resume. And do not get me wrong, I am very proud of my achievements. Institutions like Stanford University and Harvard Business School have been invaluable in my growth and the path that I have taken, not only because of the classes but also because they connected me with some of the most admirable people I know. However, when faced with life’s personal and professional challenges, I do not find myself relying on the teachings from those institutions as much as I find myself having to draw from my emotional understanding of my environment and of myself.

According to the Emotional and Social Competency Inventory published by the Hay Group, emotional intelligence is defined by four fundamental attributes: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management. I strongly believe that it is by developing all of these that we become more successful and fulfilled people.

Self-awareness is about knowing yourself and being able to assess your own emotions.

When you are able to understand why you respond a certain way to a situation, you are then able to manage it better and avoid the stress and discomfort that comes with it. The other source of self-awareness is an understanding of the way others respond to you. This is a difficult skill to grow because we naturally tend to see what we want to see. But being aware of your impact on others allows you to better motivate and lead them, which is an indispensable trait of a successful leader.

Self-management is your ability to control impulsive feelings.

It is your ability to adapt to changing situations while staying positive without reacting to them quickly. This is particularly important as an entrepreneur when you are constantly faced with new challenges. Managing your impulses is the only way to tackle challenges successfully and prevent yourself from feeling overwhelmed. In practical terms, this can translate to taking a cool-off period before responding to an investor who may have upset you, or taking the time to explain a problem to an employee instead of telling her off in front of the team.

Social awareness is the ability to understand the needs and concerns of others.

It requires a high level of empathy and will enable you to recognize power dynamics. People who are socially aware are able to relate to others and to draw them in. They know how to make every individual feel special, understood and respected. As an entrepreneur, if you are trying to build a team and motivate people, you need to be socially aware in order to create and foster a culture in which your team can grow in a healthy way.

Finally, relationship management is the ability to nurture relationships and inspire people. It is the capacity to influence others and defuse conflicts. For this you need to have developed self-awareness, self-management and social awareness. This is the attribute that leaders most share. Inspiring others comes naturally to them and because people believe in these strong leaders, they are more likely to overcome challenges for them.

Where do you learn Emotional Intelligence?

None of these attributes are taught in school. There is no official track one can follow to improve them. And yet they are integral to success and self-fulfillment. I have focused here on their professional impact, but it is easy to draw parallels to one’s personal life. Ever since I started Boticca with my business partner, it has been blatantly obvious to me that it is almost impossible to be a successful entrepreneur without high emotional intelligence. This is even more significant today, when teams are cross-cultural and businesses are global, thus increasing the complexity in the nuances of how emotions are expressed. Yet where does one learn how to hone it?

People I know with high emotional intelligence have often developed it thanks to their families. Their parents are themselves highly emotionally intelligent and have taught them as children through dinner conversations, through the simple observation of their interactions with others or through their direct coaching. They also surround themselves with friends with similarly high emotional intelligence. I see that with my successful entrepreneur friends who openly discuss issues of self-awareness and relationship management amongst themselves. Organizations such as EO or YPO try to encourage the development of emotional intelligence by creating environments where young leaders feel comfortable enough to discuss these issues. But this only comes along when you have already reached a certain level of success and awareness.

So, without a strong support system of family, friends or mentors to teach you and help you grow your emotional intelligence, what are you supposed to do? This is such a critical component of success and yet it is mostly ignored. Where is the Harvard Business School equivalent for emotional education? Why shouldn’t you prepare for emotional conflicts and management while you prepare for a career in business? Until someone opens the University of Emotional Intelligence or creates a curriculum for it, we’re stuck learning exclusively through the School of Life.

Original Article by Avid Larizadeh  in Forbes.com

Left and right brain thinking – leadership needs both.

Posted on 08/31/12 by admin

The teams and people with whom I work are always very interested in mindfulness and innovation and the relevance of  the differences between left and right brain thinking. We also work on understanding meditation and the benefits of being “present” – leading to awareness of our leadership style and its impact on the world around us. This twenty minute video presentation by a mostly left brain – academically trained – Scientist brilliantly illustrates the differences between the left and right hemispheres in terms of thinking. Her passion for her life changing event and discoveries shine through in a most human way and her conclusions are very interesting. See what you think…

Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor had an opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: One morning, she realized she was having a massive stroke. As it happened — as she felt her brain functions slip away one by one, speech, movement, understanding — she studied and remembered every moment. This is a powerful story about how our brains define us and connect us to the world and to one another.

 

Leadership and Emotional Intelligence Development.

Posted on 01/25/12 by admin

In 2012 it is widely accepted that Emotional Intelligence gives an advantage in the achievement of “success” and is more important than IQ. This is especially true for Leadership and its importance improves the higher up the organisation an individual goes.

From Darwin to the present, most descriptions, definitions and conceptualizations of emotional intelligence have included one or more of the following components:
(a) The ability to recognize, understand and express emotions and feelings.
(b) The ability to understand how others feel and relate with them.
(c) The ability to manage and control emotions.
(d) The ability to manage change, adapt and solve problems of a personal and interpersonal nature.
(e) The ability to generate positive affect and be self-motivated.

Emotional Intelligence is broken down into competences which are categorised by Goleman into Dimensions: Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation, Motivation, Empathy and Social Skills.

All agree that Emotional Intelligence can be learned and improved. There is debate however, as to how much it can be improved.
Higgs and Dulewicz contend that only some competences can be improved and of these only some by training – the others by experience.
Goleman suggests a different type of training is required. Organizations need to make accessible a mode of learning that is appropriate to the emotional intelligence domain these abilities can be improved. I carried out Academic research on a significant statistical population in 2007 which concluded that Emotional Intelligence can be improved substantially using the correct approach.

As it’s a different part of the brain that needs to be retrained one can’t improve these abilities in the same way that you learn technical expertise. So the appropriate mode is a requirement of successful outcome. Adapting from Goleman, Bytazis & McKee (2002) one can derive a 5 step model:

  • Define who you want to be
  • Define who you are now
  • Define how you get to who you want to be.
  • Plan to make the changes stick.
  • Identify who can help and support you.

My own experience and research contends that Emotional Intelligence can be developed through innovative and specific one to one or group training. The learning is not however like academic learning and revolves around processes which change the way you look at yourself, feel about yourself and engage with the world around you. Aristotle once said “We are what we repeadly do, excellence then is not an act but a habit”. How true!

Aidan Higgins

Overview of the Origins of the Enneagram

Posted on 01/04/12 by admin

Much of the development of the ideas of the Enneagram in the modern sense is attributed to Gurdjieff (b. 1875) – a Greek Armenian working in the early 20th Century (Riso and Hudson 1999, Lapid-Bogda 2004, Kale and Shrivastava 2002) who is credited with assembling the first parts of the Enneagram from Eastern traditions. This work was built on researched by and added to from various classical and spiritual teachings by Oscar Ichazo a Bolivian Philosopher (Riso and Hudson 1999, Lapid-Bogda 2004, Kale and Shrivastava 2002, Maitri 2005) following his travels and was synthesised formally into a “system” in the mid 1950s.

We see the world through our type.

It is derived from the (Riso and Hudson 1999) “nine divine attributes as they are reflected in human nature” and these ideas are originally attributed to the Neo-Platonists and appeared in Plotinus’s writings “the Enneads” (3rd Century AD). According to Goldberg (1999) the Enneagram is very old. He claims Homer (ca 750BCE) knew the nine basic themes essentially as they are today.

Riso and Hudson (1999) explain that they found their way into the Christian Tradition as the seven deadly sins (to match the seven sacraments) and two others – fear and deceit. Ichazo traced early ideas about the nine divine attributes from Greece to the “desert fathers of the fourth century” who first developed the concept of the seven deadly sins and from there into medieval literature including the “Canterbury Tales” and Dante’s “Purgatorio”. Following studies of the Jewish tradition of the Kaballah and in particular “the tree of life” Ichazo assembled the basic template of the Enneagram as it is known today.

Helen Palmer in an interview posted on www.ennea.com (1997) echoes this clarifying that the roots of the Enneagram are in the mystical wings of many sacred traditions. These roots are also found in Sufism (the mystical wing of Islam) and in the Judaic tradition however the Enneagram is especially prominent in the Christian tradition through the study of the seven capital tendencies. These in company with two generic or general tendencies that all types hold in common bring the total to nine.

In 1970 a noted Chilean Psychiatrist Claudio Naranjo (Palmer 1995, Maitri 2005, Riso and Hudson 1996) who was developing a program of Gestalt Therapy (the client is encouraged to experience his or her own feelings and behaviours in the here and now) was taught by Ichazo in Chile about the nine types or as he called them “ego fixations”. Returning to California he began to teach the enneagram with other psychological systems and began correlating the Enneagram with the psychiatric categories he was familiar with thereby expanding the concept.

Working with private groups initially Naranjo began to teach a version of the Enneagram in the Oral tradition and it spread rapidly from there through Naranjo’s Students, enthusiasts and the Jesuit retreat houses.

Wagner, Palmer and Riso were students of Naranjo and became the foremost thinkers on the Enneagram. Their work since the 1970s has added to the understanding of the Enneagram and with Naranjo’s work this has added a dept of experiential learning and understanding to the Psychological framework. According to Cutting and Kouzmin (2004) the Enneagram typology itself has been built up from experience and observing it over a long period of time.

Jerome Wagner PHD and author of the Enneagram Spectrum of Personality Styles (1996) summarises the origins nicely for the purposes of this study. He confirms that the trail of the Enneagram grows less distinct before Ichazo, but that it is evident that the parameters of the person as viewed through the lens of Enneagram theory have been recognized in some fashion across ages and centuries and across cultures, races, and genders. The Enneagram must tap into something universal in the nature and functioning of human beings. The fact that people from such varied places as Africa, Japan, Korea, India, Europe, North and South America and Russia etc can recognize these nine styles in their native cultures speaks to the generalizability of the Enneagram system.

Now being used through large multi-national businesses and organisations, its use is resulting in distinct improvements in many areas from financial metrics to leadership capabilities as well as teamwork. The Enneagram has become universally accepted a a key tool in Emotional Intelligence development.

Aidan Higgins

Success in hard times.

Posted on 12/01/11 by Aidan

Awareness

Is it always true that if we work harder we will do better? In times like we are passing through now, if we put our heads down and push are we doing the right thing? What happens if we are already working very hard and if we are already expending more of ourselves than we like and leaving nothing for our personal lives  – the wringings from a dishcloth. Is this sustainable?

The term work smarter is very old. However the term applies still to the concepts of using your efforts more wisely.  What about working more intelligently? A friend of mine once said to me – smart is short term – intelligence is long term. I see a lot of well meaning managers and leaders, leading by example, burning the candle at both ends and bringing their people with them. For a time the work culture in  Japan for instance precluded you leaving the office before the boss left even if it meant staying until midnight. Corporate in Japan had to turn off the lights in their buildings to make people go home. Bosses mean well and often lead this way – “work harder and we’ll get through this!”

But what about working more Intelligently. What about waking up your people to Awareness and making them more Emotionally Intelligent? What about using training to improve the success of your people, who properly motivated use these new skills to be better in all facets of their jobs. We have been hearing for years that we need to encourage people to be leaders and to strive independently for their team in their own interests as well as the teams. Well what about giving them the tools to develop their Self Awareness, Self Regulation , Empathy and Social Skills, all of which are directly related to success.

In 2004 Stanford’s Graduate School of Business stated that “Emotional intelligence skills such as vision, building relationships and developing people are more important to leadership success than typical leadership traits, such as external/market orientation, financial acumen and planning“. This study involved 265 corporate executives, directors, managers, business owners, and consultants.  Sir John Egan, former head of the Confederation of British Industry, BAA and Jaguar is quoted as saying that “It is the really inspirational leaders who stand out in a crisis…Emotional intelligence is a big plus in hard times“.

I met someone the other evening – a small business owner  – who said that becoming aware of his personality type made an immediate difference to the running of his business. He said he was able to re-organise his and others work to match his strengths. I have watched how the processes that improve awareness and Emotional Intelligence build better teams, comradeship and networks in business.

Better still its something we can do something about. Its not “out there” with the financial difficulties, its internal. We can get our people awake and working better together by applying simple techniques and opening up their awareness of themselves and others quite readily.

And success breeds success.

Aidan Higgins

First Published 2009

Mindset Matters

Posted on 10/19/11 by admin

EagleI am constantly amazed by the impact of a mindset. I see it in business. I see it in with my friends. I see it in rugby all the time.  Often success is a result of the view we have formed of ourselves and our norming behaviour ( behaviours that move our outcome up or down towards our expected outcome).

In business it’s seen in the can-do attitude of for example a Saleperson, in Rugby the reaparrance of a bogey team that we lose to again and in some friends their refusal to “go for it” feeling they are not good enough.

This is of course not a new idea. Henry Ford is famous for many things especially his production line processes that brought motoring to the masses in the US. One comment he made is well quoted – “whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t you are right”.

A friend of mine Declan Coyle who gives courses which involve internal change often says to his class “If you think this is Pop Psychology – you will probably prove yourself right!”.

I came across a very nice story recently told by Tony De Mello:

A man found an eagles egg and put it in the nest of a barnyard hen.
The eaglet hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them.
All his life the eagle did what the barnyard chicks did, thinking he was a barnyard chicken.
He scratched the earth for worms and insects.
He clucked and he cackled. And he would thrash his wings and fly a few feet up in the air.
Years passed and the Eagle grew very old.
One day he saw a magnificent bird above him in the cloudless sky.
It glided in graceful Majesty among the powerful wind currents with scarcely a beat of its golden wings.
The old eagle looked up in awe. “Who’s that?” he asked.
“Thats the eagle, the king of the birds,” said his neighbour.
“He belongs in the sky. We belong to the earth – we’re chickens”
So the eagle lived and died a chicken, for thats what he thought he was.

If we think about it we can see that this behaviour is entirely internal and therefore a choice. We may have been listening to those voices who point to our flaws and never our brilliance or who continue to tell us why we can’t do something they never will. These are the people Teddy Roosevelt called those that “dwell in perpetual twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat”.

Because its a mindset matter its internal and therefore under our own control. Positive thinking and a reset of our norm can bring great results. First however we need to wake up to its existence and to observe it in action. Once again awareness is critical. Its easier of course for those of us with confidence but its just a longer journey for those who don’t.

My mother always told me I could do anything. I believe her!

Aidan Higgins

First Published Feb 2008

Against the Ice the Tiger and the Bear

Posted on 08/23/10 by Aidan

This was sent to me just after I delivered a Management Development Course last week that included the Enneagram. Its from Dr David Daniels who has been to Ireland a number of times and I have been lucky enought to spend a bit of time learning from him. As with most things this former Professor of Psychiatry from Stanford University has a wonderfully clear way of getting to the root of things and explaining them succinctly.

So, Why the Enneagram – By David Daniels

The need is not really for more brains,
The need is now for a gentler, a more tolerant people
Than those who won for us
Against the ice, the tiger, and the bear.”

From the Immense Journey by Loren Eisley

This is one of my very favorite quotes. For to me it represents our crucial human need to develop past our earlier levels of being on the planet. We need an expanded appreciation of the positive possibilities for our species. And the Enneagram offers a key way to evolve ourselves into expanded and more inclusive levels of consciousness. For the Enneagram is all about understanding ourselves and others; all about appreciating differences; all about reclaiming a separate self from which we can truly join in union with others; all about opening our hearts to ourselves and others in nonjudgment; and all about reclaiming and integrating in our higher qualities – all representing the work of transformation.

In terms of levels of development simply put we will in the process become more world centric. I have simplified the levels from integral psychology into four basic ones. We can readily understand these.

• Pre-conventional: Impulsive and Self-protective (ego centric). We all know that we can do destructive behaviors when upset. But this impulsive, totally self-referenced level explains why we as a species can so readily kill and pillage others who don’t give us what we want or need. Others are simply objects, basically nothing more.

• Conventional: Conformist (ethno centric). Here we can love those with whom we are identified – our religious group, race, culture, and even team. But we can denounce and even annihilate those who aren’t in our group. They are children of a lesser god so to speak. We all know this from “ethnic cleansing” and the daily news. This explains how mothers (and fathers too) send off their sons into battle for the sake of the church, country or whatever.

• Post-conventional: Self-aware to Autonomous (world centric). Here there is an ability to include diversity, to expand the boundaries of inclusion and see other groups’ point of views. The down side results from belittling the “lesser” levels.

• Non-conventional: Integrated and Unitive (universe centric). This is a rare “species”. This is live beyond ego and ethnic identifications. Very, very few of us have reached this level, certainly less than 1%. Yet it remains a possibility.

The Enneagram work helps us move into the world centric stance thus providing hope for the future for all who embrace it.. I believe this move represents a core value of the various Enneagram schools. It gives hope to Loren Eisley’s words of our need for a more “gentler, a more tolerant people than those who won for us against the ice, the tiger and the bear.”

Leadership in a Crisis

Posted on 05/31/10 by Aidan

Daniel Goleman explains why Barack O’Bama is so Emotionally Intelligent. Perhaps we would like to see a little more of this in our Leaders. Developing awareness and ability to control emotions is particularly useful in a crisis. Goleman is a thought leader in this area.

Aidan Higgins