“I love the life I lead and I lead the life I love” Willie Dixon,

There are times when I am energised by the work I do, this week has been one of those times.  I have learnt a lot and seen individuals and teams realise how talented they actually are.  The key to some of that success was for people to stop being victims and to take control of their lives and become responsible for their own actions. 

A good exercise to understand how to take control of your life is to think of a time in your past, where something significant happened and for you to then tell that story to someone else. Firstly, you tell the story from the position of being a victim.  Ensure that you blame everyone but yourself for the event.  Once you have finished, ask the person what they thought and felt as they heard you tell the story.  You should also be aware of how you sounded and what the feelings felt like inside your body as you spoke.  Then tell the story from a position where you take absolute responsibility for everything involved in the incident and see what the difference is.  You will find the results interesting.

This week I have been adding to my understanding of how high performing teams work together and when I need to be tougher in my interactions with those teams.  I also learnt when to allow things to just develop and enable them to work the problem out for themselves.

It has reinforced my belief in having simple and flexible principles that allow me to adapt to any situation.  It goes back to two mantras I have, “advanced training is undertaking basic training exceptionally well” and “rules are simply guidelines”.

During the week I stayed at Leander rowing club (Henley on Thames), I love being there because of the energy, the culture and people that work there. I met with one of the athletes that I have worked with in the past and who is currently preparing for the Olympics.   He was in fantastic shape and also mentoring other athletes for the future.  One of the things I enjoy doing is to not only to assist people in understanding themselves but to show them how to become mentors/coaches themselves.  In that way it is like a force multiplier it enables so many more people to push the boundaries of their potential.  I think it is important to pass on your experiences and help other people as often as you can. 

I then spent two days working with a senior leadership team identifying how well they worked together and how good they want to become.  Was a great two days and was down to their maturity in dealing with the information they heard and having a clear vision of what they want when they left.  Now is time for them to put those things into action.  We have a clear set of objectives for them to complete within 28 days. 

I did a lot of work this week on the sub-conscious mind and the effect our own thoughts have on our energy and thus how we perform.  I will explain much more about this area at a later date because it requires me to explain in some detail. 

I did however work with an individual who was struggling to achieve something that he was desperate to do and had been since he was a child.  Every time he got to a certain stage in his training he stopped.  We just looked at some of the limiting things/thoughts that people put in their minds at different stages of their lives and then forget that they are there.  With a little work we identified what this limiting thought was and then we changed how he perceived that past situation.  He will complete the training now, of that I have no doubt. 

We must take control of our inner voice, the voice inside our minds.  Because that voice belongs to us, it is our own voice, a voice we created so let’s ensure that it is a positive one.

I also stepped into the pressure zone this week.  Walked into the Leander gym just before I leaving for Birmingham and decided to put myself next to two athletes who were rowing at a good rate.  It is nice when you push yourself to the limit; the more you put yourself in to the pressure zone the easier things become (it did hurt).  I even sparred this week against someone who is a committed cage fighter.  Was great to move and have to think quickly or get beaten up.  It gave me an indication of where my training is at the moment. 

India. A recap on my time in Feb-see previous blogs:

The players arrived in India and settled into the accommodation at the KSC Stadium, Bangalore.  The stadium was being renovated so the accommodation was not the best but adequate.  I was quite pleased the conditions were below what the players were used to because they were there to learn how to deal with adversity.  The players and staff had been building a strong culture and work ethic in the UK but now it was time to test our ability in different and difficult conditions.  We could then see how this culture stood up in competition.  More importantly, how did they as individuals stand up to these conditions.

I stayed on the same floor as the players to show a little solidarity with the conditions and to be there if we had any problems during the evening (the very first evening one of the boys was sick, clearing up the mess at three in the morning was not fun).  On the first day we agreed common principles of behaviour.  There was a curfew, no drinking, etc.  I also have a dislike of people being late (on the second day a couple of the players were late for various activities).   I therefore brought in the five minute test (a series of exercises; press-ups, burpees, squat thrusts, star jumps and sit-ups, the person has to complete a minute on each exercise with a five second gap between those exercises, there is no stopping at all and they must do a maximum effort on each exercise).  The next person that was late would complete the test as soon as they were late; no matter what they were doing next, even if we were going out to dinner.  We only had one more person that was late.

We trained for the first four days in a set sequence.  This was to become acclimatised to the very different conditions we had left in the UK.  The temp was plus 30 but no humidity.  The sequence we followed was to undertake a skills session (working on their technical ability), then to put them through a pressure training session (where they had to undertake various technical/tactical exercises and be judged on their ability at the end of that sequence) and then to test them (this part of the training is under match conditions).   The pressure training and testing had consequences for those that did not reach the standard set.  Working with us during this period were ex England captains who offered advice on how elite international teams operate.  This was a valuable source of information for all the players and staff.

The reason I like this type of sequence (skill/pressure/testing) is that we must be trained to deal with adversity; by being trained and then put in to a pressure situation we learn how to control our thoughts and feelings under pressure (I have come across no-one who does not need to be trained to deal with real adversity and pressure, if they want to perform well).  With skills and pressure training in place we can then be tested and judged accordingly.  With the appropriate training we are able to build a file in our minds that enables us to know what to do in adversity.  When we are then tested we have the tools to perform to the best of our ability and trust our judgement. 

We also ensured that the players had the best advice in terms of nutrition, strength and conditioning, technical advice, mental toughness.  In addition the players had to keep up with their education, each player brought a detailed plan of study for the two weeks we were in India.  We had also checked with the school that this was an appropriate amount of work for them.  In addition they were responsible for undertaking a project to support a local charity.  More to follow.

On Friday I coached a Dancer, she wants to train in New York or London.   This is a moment in time when there is a price to pay for success.  I have put this type of situation in to a four step process.  The first step is that we must have a vision, a clear unambiguous statement of intent, something you really want, like a North Star on the horizon, so that no matter what the adversity you keep on moving forward.  Secondly, we must understand our start point, how good are you today and what do you need to become better, thirdly, there is always a pressure zone to operate in if we want success, the more we step into this area and become familiar with our emotions and how to deal with them the easier things become.  Fourthly, WE MUST COMMIT, without commitment nothing happens.

Finally, I went to Portal Golf Course to look at a new academy for young golfers.  The founder of the academy was explaining the content of the training programme to some prospective students.  It is an outstanding concept, providing an elite high performing culture that give people an opportunity to pursue their dreams and gain an education.  All they have to do is make a COMMITTMENT.

Most important learnings for the week?  Do a job you love and commitment.

2 thoughts on “

  1. Floyd a post that sparks some thoughts and action.

    A peer of mine from the Knowledge Management days a Professor Rob Cross at the University of Virginia http://www.robcross.org/ who is the guru on Social Networks concluded from his studies that those who tend to leave others feeling energized after interactions get better performance evaluations, advance more rapidly, and are more likely to be catalysrts of innovation when compared to “de-energizers” (people who bring other’s down, who leave them feeling sapped).This is seemingly so simple, and a great rule of thumb. It explains so much about how people propel or on the other dark side poison — the people in their networks and their own careers. I recall a Xerox colleague Dan Holtshouse telling me how one elegant question Rob used said so much about an individual. It was something like People can affect the energy and enthusiasm we have at work in various ways. Interactions with some people can leave you feeling drained while others can leave you feeling enthused about possibilities. When you interact with each person below, how does it typically affect your energy level? It was a simple response scale de-energizing, No-Efect /Neutral and energizing. Food for thought because if you were to list out those who were de-energising and what they had in common and the outcomes of such interactions them it becomes possible to control levels of distraction.

    On your comments about how to take control of your life and become responsible for your actions you reminded me of some research in a work context that my first and now current MD Peter Ellen conducted when he researched what made for an effective second level sales manager. What came out was that the key contruct for a Branch Manager was to structure his (they were all men in those days) world using the construct of what events or situations were in his control and those which were not. It turned out that this linked to a couple of other constructs. The first was managing with and through (the sales manager) vs managing through the sales manager. The second was absorbing and manages stress vs transmitting uncertainty and stress (ie passes it on). What seemed to be happening was that the top Branch Managers had effective skills in managing the basics and focussing on key controls rather than constipating the sales managers and salesforce with excessive KPI’s or becoming what we would describe nowadays as a control freak.

    The ineffective Branch Managers seemed to have an instrumental approach to their managers and salesforce as opposed to the effective ones who emphasised coaching and working within the framework provided. What’s also intriguing was that by being less stressed there was less pressure on the sales people in front of customers and this aided their development to be the best they could be. The effective Branch Manager coached their Managers to be better coaches and people managers.

    What also came out from this research was that Branch Managers adopted different strategies to influence departments or people outside their control. Here I found it revealing of the culture at the time that they dealt with issues in person, or picking up the phone rather than sending memos. Neither did they delegate important tasks , they did it themselves.

    I found a similar but slightly different approach when I looked at what it took to be a high value , high tech Systems Salesman. They distinguished very clearly between what was in their control and not or as they described it the structured part of their world vs the unstructured political side. On the one hand they viewed the world through the lens of structured qualification models and rigorous almost robotic sales processes. What the effective did was to divide the world between the internal and external customer so you found them applying the same selling strategies within their own companies. Glen Garry Glemn Ross they were selling all the time and the most effective saw themselves as MD’s acted as MD’s as opposed to sales people and had no qualms in circumventing internal and external customer procedures. They were not limited by company protocols. Rules were not guidelines they were to be explored to the limit.In effect they were purposeful networkers before their time. I have to say too they were great users of resources as well as people. The best were incredibly energising. Again necessary if you were going for a major bid to gather the best resources they combined working in the hierarchy skills .and status when it suited with super political skills.

    So what does this mean? From a work as opposed to personal perspective just by addressing what is in your control it then becomes possible to develop and take personal accountability rather than do what you preferr. It starts to make you consider how to shape a career and as you say do the organisation basics exceptionally well. And without further ado that’s what I am up to now!

    (I’ll comment on passion vs obsession on another occasion if I may.)

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