Save me from corporate speak

April 4, 2015
Keep it simple ...

Keep it simple …

Having just returned from four solid weeks of customer and international collaboration meetings, I’m up to pussy’s bow with corporate speak.

The next time you feel the need to reach out, touch base, shift a paradigm, leverage a best practice or, at the end of the day, move into a new space, by all means do it. Just don’t say you’re doing it like that.

No longer the province of consultants and business-school types, the annoying corp-speak trend has infused businesses everywhere. Used as a means of corporate elitism, such talk, along with obscure acronyms, make people feel part of the club.

Well, here’s a cliché to kick us off: talk is cheap.

Because sincerity requires more than lifting something from a business magazine in an airport lounge. Anyway, to get you up to speed (sorry), here’s a far from exhaustive list of corp-speak, with a few [comments] along the way. Some on this list are clichés, others are aphorisms, but they’re all equally irritating. I’m sure you’ll have many more.

  • What the mind can conceive, it can achieve [But can you fly like a bird?]
  • Winners never quit [But to become winners, they do change their approach – a more subtle argument.]
  • What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger
  • Teamwork to make the dream work [Pass me the bucket.]
  • Money can’t buy happiness [Oh yes it can.]
  • There’s no ‘i’ in ‘team’ [What about healthy teams that appreciate constructive individuality? By the way, there is a ‘me’ in team.]
  • Good things come to those who wait [Why wait?]
  • It was meant to be [Then why did we bother trying to make it not be?]
  • The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results [Sometimes you have to do the same thing many times to get the result you want – it’s called practice.]
  • Let’s take that offline [Are we really that digitally focused?]
  • We’re moving into that ‘space’ [It’s not cool when everyone is saying this.]
  • Everything happens for a reason [Who decides the reason?]
  • Innovative, solutions orientated, service focused [You get the picture … blah.]
  • We’re going from ‘good’ to ‘great’
  • Blue ocean, red ocean
  • People are our most important asset [Yet most businesses certainly don’t act like they are.]
  • It is what it is
  • Live each moment like it’s your last
  • Follow your bliss
  • It’s just my personal opinion [No, tells us what someone else thinks.]
  • Let’s not reinvent the wheel
  • I’m a thought leader [Not if you have to say you are.]
  • It’s not rocket science [Unless you work for NASA!]
  • It’s all good [Usually said when it isn’t.]
  • The time is now! [Of course it is. When else!]
  • Make hay while the sun shines
  • Bespoke solution [Great for Rolls Royce, silly for almost everyone else.]
  • Don’t assume – it makes an ASS out of U and ME [Another bucket please.]
  • What’s done is done
  • Greed is good [Finally, one I agree with.]
  • Pushing the envelope [Air Force to Corporate, a giant leap …?]
  • Nice guys finish last
  • Paradigm shift [Has no meaning but people like to pretend it does.]
  • Go with the flow
  • No offence, but … [We know what’s coming next.]
  • Rome wasn’t built in a day
  • Work smarter, not harder
  • We’re all in this together [Group failure is always so much better.]
  • Everything always works out in the end
  • Tomorrow is another day
  • It could be worse [From whose perspective?]
  • Think outside the box
  • The best things in life are free [Do you really believe that?]
  • Work hard, play hard
  • The more things change, the more they stay the same [No they don’t!]
  • Fail harder [Whatever that means, but I’m not inclined to try it!]
  • Perception is reality [What about when your perception is psychotic?]
  • Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm [How about winning occasionally. Talk about a negative mind set!]
  • At the end of the day [My most hated. Never again.]

So, there are a few phrases to throw into the mix and see what sticks so you can transition your brand trajectory, without offshoring, to leverage your core competencies to drive efficiency and ensure client-centric solutions for a valued added experience.

Please, try something new.

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The naivety of youth and where to find some

March 23, 2015
Recapture your youth ...

Recapture your youth …

There’s something refreshing about the naivety of youth; a time of not knowing it all and having the opportunity and the excitement of finding out. There are so many new experiences, taking nothing for granted and enjoying the moment; enjoying the journey as well as the destination.

It’s ironic because this is exactly what many of us ‘older’ people are searching for. I saw a great example this morning. As I waited in the airline lounge for another flight, I made my way up to the coffee station and there was a young man of 16 or 17, my son’s age, standing there looking at the machine.

He clearly didn’t know what to do and looked like a fish out of water. There were huffs and puffs from the handful of business types behind him, frustrated by the multi-second delay this was causing to their day.

Excruciatingly absorbed in their self-importance, these men and women in their power suits, sporting permanent scowls that scream ‘I’m so important’, were clearly desperate to secure that next coffee with minimal downtime.

I said to the young man, ‘These machines are so complicated, far too many buttons for my liking’ as I helped him to make his selection. He said he was new at this. ‘Great, where are you going?’ He was off to Sydney to race go-carts in the national championships.

‘Wow, that sounds great’, I said as I handed him his cup. I saw him eyeing the biscuits so suggested he’d better grab a few of those to keep him going. We headed back to our seats in the same direction and he told me how happy he was, how this was a great opportunity for him, how excited he was about flying and being allowed to use the lounge.

I wished him luck, told him he was unquestionably the most interesting person in here and that I hoped to see him in F1 one day. I was much better off for talking to him and glad I’d had the chance to meet him.

Here was a young adult that was excited by life, chasing his passion and enjoying every aspect of journey, even the flight. I thought back to my first few flights and how excited I was too.

Many people in this lounge have big jobs, high salaries and flash cars but have lost the passion and excitement. I looked over at the young man talking enthusiastically with his parents, almost bouncing off the walls, while the ‘blue suits’ had their noses buried in the latest Richard Branson article on their iPads.

When you recapture the wonder, you capture the world.

Where to find success

February 18, 2015
The zest of success!

The zest of success!

Work in a corporate with more than 100 people and you’ll find such a diversity of people, performance levels and expectations. There are great people, top performers who are well rewarded and provide excellent value for the business. However, there are many who expect to be rewarded at a level far above their effort and results. Their self-perception is mismatched with their performance. Often it’s not ability, but effort and motivation that holds them back.

So where does success meet personal power? Here are some tips:

In order to succeed you need ambition, which means you need to work hard, make sacrifices, and keep going when things aren’t going well. It’s easy to get discouraged or side-tracked; success comes in the last 10% that most people aren’t prepared to do.

Successful people are energetic. They act and talk with passion, bringing people along on the journey. Stamina counts: you have to be willing to work harder and longer than those around you. ‘Wanting’ and ‘doing’ are very different; be your own action hero and people will feed off your energy.

Ambition and energy need to be channelled toward a clear goal. ‘Busy’ and ‘efficient’ are two very different things. There are many choices when focusing on what’s important, so don’t make the mistake of not choosing.

The drive toward success must include ongoing analysis and assessment. Many people think they have 10 years of experience, but they really have one year of experience repeated 10 times. In order for experience to lead to growth, you must review your progress objectively and be prepared to make appropriate changes.

Successful people exude confidence, which increases their influence and power. Confident behavior is often associated with actual power, so you’ll have more influence if you come across as confident and decisive.

Do you have the capacity to tolerate conflict? Most people don’t; they prefer to avoid difficult situations and difficult people. Since change often provokes resistance, standing up for your beliefs can be challenging. Sometimes you need to fight for what you want.

To find success, I’m not suggesting you dedicate your life to your ambition. Balance is important and provides perspective. Use your time wisely and, when working, be present, focused and motivated. Don’t expect others to provide this, it comes from within. Take initiative. Do more than expected. Do this and you’ll stand out in a world where striving for mediocrity is the norm.

New Year: a time of change

January 30, 2015
How do  we achieve meaningful change?

How do we achieve meaningful change?

Often the most important things in our lives remain hidden in plain sight, obscured by the rush of routine or the pull of commitment. Sometimes, the most we can do is simply focus on the next task, whatever is most urgent. In so doing, we slowly become oblivious to what’s most important.

At other times, we succumb to the temptation of believing that progress means change. If you haven’t yet started then you will need to change; however, it’s easy to forget that, in choosing what you have already chosen, you may have chosen well.

Sometimes you choose badly and embrace the wrong set of values or pursue the wrong purposes. When that happens, you need to have the confidence to make other choices.

But we also need to learn the value of staying true, of choosing again what we chose before.

Commitment and success

January 20, 2015
Commitment means taking action

Commitment means taking action

This is my 200th blog post so a very opportune time to talk about commitment.

We all know that some people find it easier to commit than others – taking action to move into a committed, full and happy life – while others find commitment to anyone or anything a struggle.

The usual explanation of the uncommitted is that something ‘better’ might be just around the corner. This can only be part of the equation because it’s not only what you commit to, it’s how you commit that defines your success.

Only the smallest part of committing is the passive process of ‘deciding’ what you have committed to; the main factor that will make the choice successful or not is the work you put into it. ‘I will start a blog, I will start exercising, I will improve my education’ – all count for very little unless you take action.

The key determiner of how you commit (or not) is the script that dictates how you live your life. Often the positive self-talk or initial excitement of the challenge isn’t enough. There’s a difference between what you want to believe (‘I can change’) and what you actually believe (‘It’s no use, I will never change’). Compare this to an internal belief system that supports ‘I always finish what I start’ to ‘It’s no use, I always give up or fail.’

Perhaps the best response is to prove it to yourself. Make small changes and keep at it. Don’t try to change everything all in one go. Set small tasks that you know you can achieve and build on them. Set achievable stepping stones that support your progress and build your belief system.

 

 

Good enough now

December 9, 2014
Stay focused on what matters now

Stay focused on what matters now

One of the reasons we try to manage the future is we think we’ll somehow be better, understand more and avoid the challenges that get in the way of our success. Of course, the problem with avoiding our challenges is that we also avoid the opportunity to grow. We avoid the lesson.

It’s through our contact with the fullness of the present moment and who we are that we recognise our gifts and our purpose. This is where freedom lies. Not down the road, but in the reality of the now.

When we stop running from ourselves, and what we fear is failure, we have an opportunity to experience worth and success. We’ll always be wrestling with something. But we don’t need to arrive somewhere to find it. No matter what it looks like, we’ve already come a long way, and this is what we’ve been waiting for. Embrace it. And then … do it again.

No regrets. Well, perhaps just a few …

November 26, 2014
Living your life

Living your life

My last post discussed regrets and how we process them. It got me thinking about how we handle them and what we can do differently.

I read an article about a hospice nurse who recorded the common regrets of the dying patients with whom she worked. The two top regrets are interesting and relatable. First, people generally wished they’d had the courage to live a more authentic life. They looked back on life and realised the many occasions in which they had capitulated to external pressure. They wished they’d taken more opportunities to follow their hearts.

The second regret was wishing that they hadn’t worked so hard. In a world where success is often measured by what we do and how well we do it, the correlation between job and identity appears not to be fulfilling in the long run. If deathbed wisdom is any guide then people would prefer to have taken off more days and spent more time with friends and family or to pursue their passion and purpose.

In this regard, life really can get in the way of living. Most of us can’t simply ‘chuck it in’ and live a life to our own rules and pursuing our passions, regardless of how inspiring that sounds. But imagine we made space for some of that now, rather than doing nothing or putting it off until retirement or when we have time? Plan some time to make a start. Even a few hours a week will make you feel better, provide more balance and allow you to deal better with the not-so-inspiring requirements of life.

When you think about your regrets, consider what you might do to avoid them in the first place. Are you willing to take a day off occasionally to spend time with those you care about? Are you willing to take it a little easier at work and leave a little earlier? What would happen if you left work at lunchtime and turned up at your child’s sports day?

Regrets about regret

November 3, 2014
Life's too short for regrets

Life’s too short for regrets

My wife and I were driving home from a weekend away and were talking about some of the things we regret. Fortunately, for both of us, marriage was not on the list! The conversation stemmed from the passage of time, and now, with our children becoming adults, where the childhood years went.

My wife regretted not letting our children be ‘freer’; allowing the girls to wear their fairy dresses as much as they wanted and not caring if they became dirty or ruined from overuse. And taking them to ballet, despite the fact they hadn’t show any interest in dancing.

For me, it was putting my career first in the misguided notion that my success in the business world would pave a better life for my family. It took me twenty years to realise the folly in that.

We both agreed that we were better parents to our son, child number three, as we were older, more experienced and, then in our thirties, applying a more balanced perspective on life. Now, as grandparents for the first time, in our fifties, we’re in the ‘sweet spot’ of life and have the time, energy and patience to be awesome in this new priority-leading role.

Regret is a strange beast. Our children grew up with every opportunity; wonderful holidays, excellent education, love and support and we enjoy a close relationship with each of them to this day. So what is there to regret? As we drove and talked, we realised we were looking back based on the values and experience we have now.

Back then, money was tight; we couldn’t afford the ballet lessons or to replace the fairy dresses so we prioritised swimming lessons and a family holiday. My wife gave up her career to be a full-time mum, a goal we had set very early on. Our mortgage seemed insurmountable and I thought striving for the next career rung would make that easier.

And of course it did. And then we did the best with what we had. We were the best parents we could be with our relative inexperience.

So perhaps now through older and more experienced eyes we need to give ourselves a break on the regrets and focus on making today great. So when my nearly three-year-old grandson tells me that I’m the best grandpa in the world, well, I believe him.

Success leaves clues

October 9, 2014
Success is everywhere ...

Success is everywhere …

Where do you find your insights and motivation?

I find my best insights don’t come from books, seminars or conferences. They come, often unexpectedly, from focusing my attention on something completely different to business or my project of the moment. For me that can be surfing, writing or restoring an old car.

Find something you love to do and work hard to explore, learn and master it. Then take the lessons you learn from it and apply them to other areas of your life. Learning teaches us many things and sets the mind for new input and experiences. There’s great satisfaction in achievement, and success leaves clues that can be applied in all areas of your life.

Best of all, you’ll need very little encouragement or motivation to study something you enjoy. All you need to do is look for the lessons and move them from one part of your life to another.

Where does God sit on the question of life’s meaning?

September 30, 2014

Life's meaning

The question ‘What is the meaning of life?’ may have seemed as strange to generations past as the question ‘Do you believe in God?’, because it was considered the same question.

Somewhere along the line, we began to question God and separate the concepts of religious and spiritual belief, which, perhaps, makes the question of the meaning of life a more modern one. This isn’t to say that people didn’t ask themselves why they were here; rather, it seems for the most part that they had a readymade answer in religion.

If we are created in God’s image, then the blind following of doctrines may not express our individuality or allow for spiritual growth. Does that mean that God wants us to question the meaning of life? Either way, I believe we are free to question all we want.

Previous generations may have been less plagued by the meaning-of-life question, not because their religious beliefs were any less up for question, but because their social practices offered less scope for contemplation. The meaning of life in such times consisted of doing more or less what your ancestors did, as well as the age-old conventions society expected of you. Religion and precedent were there to instruct on such matters.

The idea that there could be a meaning to life that was unique to the individual is unlikely to have gained much support, when the meaning of life consisted of its function within the community as a whole.

In these times outliers were not consider helpful at all. I was reminded recently that the word ‘individual’ originally meant ‘indivisible’ or ‘inseparable from’ and even today being part of the community or a ‘team player’ is considered a positive attribute. Together we can achieve anything; anything, so it may seem, other than a robust sense of self.

So where does God sit on the question of life’s meaning?

If we are to move past allegory we must accept that meaning is no longer exclusively a spiritual essence buried beneath the surface. In my opinion, we’re free to question life’s meaning while remaining faithful to our beliefs.