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if you don’t have anything nice to say…

May 27, 2016

It has been a long time since I have posted anything here. For a while I told myself it was because I was busy – with work, with family, with all manner of things. But what I have come to realise is that I write when I think I have made sense of something and I believe that something is worth sharing.

The truth is that for much of 2016 I have struggled to make sense of what is going on around me. In my city, in my country and in my world. One thing I have either heard or read recently is that times of tumultuous change brings out the worst and the best in us.

What life looks like on the other side of that tumult depends on whether we choose to respond out of fear or out of hope.

That much makes sense to me and I believe that message is worth sharing.

How to do it? I haven’t figured that out yet. But I am hopeful.

***

If you would like me to come and share with you and your team the benefits that come from my work in the theatre and the experiential learning environments that I create, make me an offer via the Contact Me page.

Here is what some participants have said about their experience with me:

A week out from participating in the Samurai Game with Paul Marshall as facilitator, I am now convinced of what I had merely suspected, minutes out from completion – the Samurai Game has changed my life. Having recounted the ‘story’ of the day to a number of people close to me, from the introduction, to […]

Sara (Solicitor)

The real world is never straightforward, and it’s seldom clear what the right answer is for many of our major decisions – especially if there’s some moral aspect to those decisions – and we have to dig down to our core values to make the decisions we can live with afterwards. It’s not often we […]

Ken Livingston (Senior Business Analyst)

For more on the Samurai Game you should start here and here.

If you enjoyed reading this or my other posts and you would like to read more, you can subscribe and receive them via email simply by putting your email address into the Email Subscription box just on the right of my blog home page. You will receive a confirmation email (which some systems will think is spam so keep an eye on your junk mail) that you need to acknowledge to complete the subscription process.

After you have subscribed, send this post on to your friends. Go on. You know at least one person who should read this post and three more who could use a bit of shaking up… seriously. Do it now. You read this far so send it on! I promise they won’t judge you or think less of you if you do.

 

what would Jack Sock do?

January 25, 2016
tags:

During the Samurai Game we spend some time exploring the concept of Bushido – a set of values attributed to Samurai and other warriors that we invite people to use to guide their decision-making during the experience. Values like: Honesty. Integrity. Honour. Respect. Courage. Benevolence. Rectitude.

The workshop provides an opportunity for people to see what it means to truly live and die, win or lose, by a set of values.

It can be difficult to find contemporary examples of what Bushido might look like and what it means to live your life guided by it.  We often see courage in the face of adversity and natural disasters. We see respect shown for those who have served us or perhaps respect shown for those we believe have earned it. We see benevolence in the giving of money or clothes to those who need it more than the giver.

They are nice but they are not Bushido.

If you want to see Bushido and its values being lived in each moment take a look at this video of US tennis player Jack Sock in his game against Lleyton Hewitt in the Hopman Cup in January 2016. Watch it a couple of times and keep in mind Jack is one point away from set point when the first serve is called out.

I offer it for you to use as a reference point as you go about the days that make up your life.

***

If you would like me to come and share with you and your team the benefits that come from my work in the theatre and the experiential learning environments that I create, make me an offer via the Contact Me page.

Here is what some participants have said about their experience with me:

A week out from participating in the Samurai Game with Paul Marshall as facilitator, I am now convinced of what I had merely suspected, minutes out from completion – the Samurai Game has changed my life. Having recounted the ‘story’ of the day to a number of people close to me, from the introduction, to […]

Sara (Solicitor)

The real world is never straightforward, and it’s seldom clear what the right answer is for many of our major decisions – especially if there’s some moral aspect to those decisions – and we have to dig down to our core values to make the decisions we can live with afterwards. It’s not often we […]

Ken Livingston (Senior Business Analyst)

For more on the Samurai Game you should start here and here.

If you enjoyed reading this or my other posts and you would like to read more, you can subscribe and receive them via email simply by putting your email address into the Email Subscription box just on the right of my blog home page. You will receive a confirmation email (which some systems will think is spam so keep an eye on your junk mail) that you need to acknowledge to complete the subscription process.

After you have subscribed, send this post on to your friends. Go on. You know at least one person who should read this post and three more who could use a bit of shaking up… seriously. Do it now. You read this far so send it on! I promise they won’t judge you or think less of you if you do.

 

 

putting your life in someone else’s hands

December 18, 2015
Daimyo Armour from Seki, Japan c. 1600 AD

Daimyo Armour, Seki c.1600 AD

Life was not cheap then, but lives were often given and easily spent.

Samurai were required to publicly pledge their lives into the service of their Daimyo Lords. The Samurai understood that such a pledge gave the Daimyo control over their days and the authority to command them: to charge into battle, to stay behind while others charged or to stand by and do nothing. It wasn’t a pledge to be made lightly nor was it a pledge that was received lightly. With the authority to lead others comes the responsibility to lead them well and the power to change lives in an instant. The power to create lives and to end lives.

Putting your life into someone else’s hands sounds like an archaic sort of thing to do. Something best left in the 16th and 17th centuries perhaps and surely not something we need in more enlightened times?

Think for a moment though of the last time you first met the person who would be your “boss”. The person who has control over much of your days. What sort of conversation did you have with them? You probably signed an employment contract with someone from HR that outlined your commitments and theirs. But did you have a conversation with your boss?

Did they explicitly request that you give them the authority to lead? Did you explicitly give them the authority to lead you, acknowledging that even though you might not agree with their decisions you commit yourself to executing them to the best of your ability?

While I have made that pledge before as a participant in a Samurai Game, I have just done just it for the first time in my corporate life. It is not that I have never granted anyone that authority, it is just the first time I have told them that I am. When you do it explicitly it makes you think carefully about who you are making that commitment to and what you are prepared to give. You are putting a large part of your life in their hands after all.

I know from my experiences with the Samurai Game that receiving that commitment also changes people. Many are reluctant and many cannot initially understand what their team see in them that allows others to pledge their life into their service.

Good leaders know that with the responsibility comes accountability and that can feel like a heavy weight to bear. Without it I don’t think there can be real leadership. With it, so much more is possible.

Think about it the next time you put your life in someone else’s hands…

***

If you would like me to come and share with you and your team the benefits that come from my work in the theatre and the experiential learning environments that I create, make me an offer via the Contact Me page.

Here is what some participants have said about their experience with me:

A week out from participating in the Samurai Game with Paul Marshall as facilitator, I am now convinced of what I had merely suspected, minutes out from completion – the Samurai Game has changed my life. Having recounted the ‘story’ of the day to a number of people close to me, from the introduction, to […]

Sara (Solicitor)

The real world is never straightforward, and it’s seldom clear what the right answer is for many of our major decisions – especially if there’s some moral aspect to those decisions – and we have to dig down to our core values to make the decisions we can live with afterwards. It’s not often we […]

Ken Livingston (Senior Business Analyst)

For more on the Samurai Game you should start here and here.

If you enjoyed reading this or my other posts and you would like to read more, you can subscribe and receive them via email simply by putting your email address into the Email Subscription box just on the right of my blog home page. You will receive a confirmation email (which some systems will think is spam so keep an eye on your junk mail) that you need to acknowledge to complete the subscription process.

After you have subscribed, send this post on to your friends. Go on. You know at least one person who should read this post and three more who could use a bit of shaking up… seriously. Do it now. You read this far so send it on! I promise they won’t judge you or think less of you if you do.

 

death is silent but insistent in its demands

November 30, 2015

Death is silent but insistent in its demands – that we choose how we will live.

In each moment death stands silently by and insists that we choose.

“How will you live? In this moment? And in this moment?”

Our lives are the result of those choices.

 

Death is silent but if we are fortunate before death claims us we may speak on death’s behalf.

Not with death’s voice but with our own, not of death’s choices but of our own.

What we chose not to do. What we chose not to say. Where we chose not to go. Who we chose not to love. Perhaps even why…

… but never of when.

We may never speak of a time when we did not choose.

 

Death, despite the silence, remains resolute, insistent throughout our life:

“You must choose!”

In that you have no choice because not choosing is also a choice. It is the choice that gives death a thunderous voice.

Those who avoid making a choice will be the ones who speak the loudest when death approaches and wordlessly demands:

“Speak of your choices for they are the measure of your living and of your dying.”

***

If you would like me to come and share with you and your team the benefits that come from my work in the theatre and the experiential learning environments that I create, make me an offer via the Contact Me page.

Here is what some participants have said about their experience with me:

A week out from participating in the Samurai Game with Paul Marshall as facilitator, I am now convinced of what I had merely suspected, minutes out from completion – the Samurai Game has changed my life. Having recounted the ‘story’ of the day to a number of people close to me, from the introduction, to […]

Sara (Solicitor)

The real world is never straightforward, and it’s seldom clear what the right answer is for many of our major decisions – especially if there’s some moral aspect to those decisions – and we have to dig down to our core values to make the decisions we can live with afterwards. It’s not often we […]

Ken Livingston (Senior Business Analyst)

For more on the Samurai Game you should start here and here.

If you enjoyed reading this or my other posts and you would like to read more, you can subscribe and receive them via email simply by putting your email address into the Email Subscription box just on the right of my blog home page. You will receive a confirmation email (which some systems will think is spam so keep an eye on your junk mail) that you need to acknowledge to complete the subscription process.

After you have subscribed, send this post on to your friends. Go on. You know at least one person who should read this post and three more who could use a bit of shaking up… seriously. Do it now. You read this far so send it on! I promise they won’t judge you or think less of you if you do.

the secret to successful (and fair) negotiations

November 23, 2015

Nothing you negotiate will ever be fair. Ever.

Zygons from Dr Who

Three Zygons

I know that because there are Zygons living among us! It is the result of an agreement negotiated to prevent a global conflict between us humans and the aliens that would have ultimately led to mass casualties and suffering on both sides. Oh, and a spoiled world for the victor – whomever that might have been. Fortunately, common sense prevailed (thank you Doctor) and a peace agreement was negotiated that was fair to all parties.

But if nothing you will ever negotiate will be fair, how can anyone create a negotiated outcome that is the best possible outcome for the parties involved? I am not talking about an “I can live with that compromise if I am forced to…”  sort of agreement that ultimately leads to resentment,  I mean a truly fair, win-win result. Can you imagine that?

Dr Who can.

You make the parties to the negotiations forget which side they are on.  Because, if you don’t know which side of the agreement you are going to end up on it changes the way you think about the policy and processes you want to put in place. There is no “them”. Just “us”.

Imagine if the representatives of the Australian Government responsible for refugee policy were put in a room with refugees and then all of them were made to temporarily forget who was seeking refuge from who?

Imagine if those who develop policy around law and order were put in a room with the people who transgress those laws – neither knowing who will be administering “justice” and who will be receiving it. I am guessing we would get closer to a restorative justice model than the model we see operating around us today.

Imagine what would happen if those who believe industry has a right to pollute the environment, displace local populations and repatriate the profits were put in the same room as the people who must breathe the air, drink the water and continue living their lives along side that industry. Would you pollute the water if you knew your kids would have to drink it?

Imagine if we put healthy, well paid 20-somethings with great career prospects in the same room as unemployed, homeless 20-somethings with mental health issues and left them to sort out what our unemployment and healthcare systems should look like – neither knowing whether they were sleeping in a bed or under a bridge when they finished the negotiations that day. Then you would get fair. Then you would get equitable.

I guess that is the wonderful thing about science fiction. It allows us to imagine a future that may never exist. The wonderful thing about being human (and maybe even about being alien) is that once you imagine it you have started the process of creating it. Imagine that.

***

If you would like me to come and share with you and your team the benefits that come from my work in the theatre and the experiential learning environments that I create, make me an offer via the Contact Me page.

Here is what some participants have said about their experience with me:

A week out from participating in the Samurai Game with Paul Marshall as facilitator, I am now convinced of what I had merely suspected, minutes out from completion – the Samurai Game has changed my life. Having recounted the ‘story’ of the day to a number of people close to me, from the introduction, to […]

Sara (Solicitor)

The real world is never straightforward, and it’s seldom clear what the right answer is for many of our major decisions – especially if there’s some moral aspect to those decisions – and we have to dig down to our core values to make the decisions we can live with afterwards. It’s not often we […]

Ken Livingston (Senior Business Analyst)

For more on the Samurai Game you should start here and here.

If you enjoyed reading this or my other posts and you would like to read more, you can subscribe and receive them via email simply by putting your email address into the Email Subscription box just on the right of my blog home page. You will receive a confirmation email (which some systems will think is spam so keep an eye on your junk mail) that you need to acknowledge to complete the subscription process.

After you have subscribed, send this post on to your friends. Go on. You know at least one person who should read this post and three more who could use a bit of shaking up… seriously. Do it now. You read this far so send it on! I promise they won’t judge you or think less of you if you do.

self portrait – pencil and self-deception, 2015

November 16, 2015

I have always struggled to draw faces. And there is one I find particularly challenging.

Mine.

Self portrait November 2015Drawing someone else’s face is difficult but it isn’t challenging. They look how they look and when I do try to draw them it doesn’t worry me that much that my attempts to capture a likeness on paper falls well short.

We are very comfortable looking at someone else and drawing our own conclusions about what motivates them, their values, how they show up in the world, whether they have two faces or just one. Sure it can be difficult and sometimes we get it wrong but that doesn’t really matter, the picture we create of them will do for today.

Drawing a self-portrait however, requires that I actually spend some time looking at my own face – the one I have spent more time with than any other but have spent the least amount of time observing. It doesn’t look like I imagine it to look (or how I want it to look if the truth be told). My forehead seems too big – even when it sits between the enormity of my ears.

Self portrait, 2009Sitting in front of the mirror with pencil in hand I have to continually remind myself to draw what I see, not what I wished I saw. Looking at the page and not the mirror, I have to fight the urge to add lines, to make things smaller or bigger, to simplify or change the relationship between parts of me that cannot be changed. There is nowhere to hide – I am as I appear to be.

Even harder still is sitting down in front of a different kind of mirror, the mirror provided by the people we live with, the people we work with. Seeing ourselves reflected through their eyes we start to notice that we don’t look to them like we imagine we do (or how we want to look if the truth be told).

And here too we need to remind ourselves to create the picture from what they show us, not what we want to see. It is difficult to resist the urge to add a more truthful mouth or make our ego bigger or smaller than it actually is, to simplify or change the relationship between them and us.

We need the courage to create a picture of what is and to put down on paper what they say they see, even though there are many things about ourselves that we might want to change, and could change, but haven’t.

Once you are able to do that the real work can begin.

***

If you would like me to come and share with you and your team the benefits that come from my work in the theatre and the experiential learning environments that I create, make me an offer via the Contact Me page.

Here is what some participants have said about their experience with me:

A week out from participating in the Samurai Game with Paul Marshall as facilitator, I am now convinced of what I had merely suspected, minutes out from completion – the Samurai Game has changed my life. Having recounted the ‘story’ of the day to a number of people close to me, from the introduction, to […]

Sara (Solicitor)

The real world is never straightforward, and it’s seldom clear what the right answer is for many of our major decisions – especially if there’s some moral aspect to those decisions – and we have to dig down to our core values to make the decisions we can live with afterwards. It’s not often we […]

Ken Livingston (Senior Business Analyst)

For more on the Samurai Game you should start here and here.

If you enjoyed reading this or my other posts and you would like to read more, you can subscribe and receive them via email simply by putting your email address into the Email Subscription box just on the right of my blog home page. You will receive a confirmation email (which some systems will think is spam so keep an eye on your junk mail) that you need to acknowledge to complete the subscription process.

After you have subscribed, send this post on to your friends. Go on. You know at least one person who should read this post and three more who could use a bit of shaking up… seriously. Do it now. You read this far so send it on! I promise they won’t judge you or think less of you if you do.

Sitting Watching People Talking – spiders, gender equality and Ricky Bobby

November 9, 2015

We all do it. I know you do. You sit at a coffee shop or at a restaurant or on a bus (anywhere really that you can sit and watch people talk) and you listen in to conversations that other people are having. You can’t turn to see their faces so you just sit and watch other people while you listen. Sometimes the conversations are nothing special but sometimes they can be extraordinary.

It is in that spirit that I present Sitting Watching People Talking – an occasional series in which I hope to share the best parts of the interesting conversations you always have (or hear) while you are sitting watching people talking. Unscripted and unrehearsed, this episode starts with a friend and a spider in the shower and ends reflecting on fundamental human tendencies stopping at gender equality and religious fundamentalism along the way. All in under 5 minutes!! Take a listen (watch if you want) and leave me a comment to let me know what you think of the concept, whether you prefer the written blogs, how it could be improved – that sort of thing.

Sitting Watching People Talking – Pilot Episode 1 :
Incy-wincy spider, religious fundamentalism, gender equality and the Ballard of Ricky Bobby

 

***

If you would like me to come and share with you and your team the benefits that come from my work in the theatre and the experiential learning environments that I create, make me an offer via the Contact Me page.

Here is what some participants have said about their experience with me:

A week out from participating in the Samurai Game with Paul Marshall as facilitator, I am now convinced of what I had merely suspected, minutes out from completion – the Samurai Game has changed my life. Having recounted the ‘story’ of the day to a number of people close to me, from the introduction, to […]

Sara (Solicitor)

The real world is never straightforward, and it’s seldom clear what the right answer is for many of our major decisions – especially if there’s some moral aspect to those decisions – and we have to dig down to our core values to make the decisions we can live with afterwards. It’s not often we […]

Ken Livingston (Senior Business Analyst)

For more on the Samurai Game you should start here and here.

If you enjoyed reading this or my other posts and you would like to read more, you can subscribe and receive them via email simply by putting your email address into the Email Subscription box just on the right of my blog home page. You will receive a confirmation email (which some systems will think is spam so keep an eye on your junk mail) that you need to acknowledge to complete the subscription process.

After you have subscribed, send this post on to your friends. Go on. You know at least one person who should read this post and three more who could use a bit of shaking up… seriously. Do it now. You read this far so send it on! I promise they won’t judge you or think less of you if you do.

 

 

working in three dimensions

October 26, 2015
tags:

A guest post from rhxthinking:

My girlfriend’s a viticulturist. Her work product is grapes and wine. I’m a knowledge worker – what I produce is less tangible: content and process (messages, documents and conversations). So when I have a hankering to make something ‘real’, I turn to origami (Japanese craft; literally, ‘to fold paper’). It’s a pastime I picked up while living in Japan.

You might be tempted to think of paper-folding as simply a hobby (to do while drinking my girlfriend’s great wine), but working with coloured squares of paper can have quite an impact on how you think and behave. To my surprise, I’ve found a place for it in my work practice.

Unfold your potential

Origami is not just for children or playing. Scientists and researchers are taking it seriously.

‘Diversifying experiences enhances cognitive flexibility’ argue researchers in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. So why not fold paper in strange and beautiful ways, to expand your usual thought patterns?

A recent article in Business Week explains: ‘Flowers, leaves, wings, proteins, mountain ranges, eyelids, ears, DNA—all are created by folding. Today researchers in robotics, biology, math, and computer science are immersing themselves in [folding] methods. Scientists are looking at how materials and molecules wrinkle, drape, flex, and crease. They’re using folding to design everything from robots to cancer drugs, from airbags to mirrors for satellite telescopes.’
This is a great example of using an art form in a surprising way. Like Jeff Jarvis’s definition of serendipity: it’s unexpected relevance!

Origami and my work

So how does paper-folding bring a new dimension to life at the office? My job is facilitating change and learning, particularly in knowledge and other organisational initiatives. I’ve discovered that origami has a place beyond my leisure time, and that there are workplace benefits from this offbeat form of paper trail:

  • Play – you have fun, experiment, create at your desk. It takes only a short time to produce a new piece. You use your hands in a tactile way and develop your hand–eye co-ordination, which is a welcome break from tapping the keyboard and digital work. Play is big as a workplace activity, as is gamification.
  • Relationships – you can make friends, build rapport and trust. It’s non-threatening. You can try it one-to-one or in a group. Anyone can do it – it cuts through boundaries. (Side thought: Origami as offline social medium?)
  • Object lesson – you learn something new, and collaborate. It’s also about creativity, about choices and detail.

Here’s an example. Before a workshop with dense technical content, we used origami as a fun starter. The aim was to make a set of building blocks, each one folded by an individual and then assembled into a single object. All the pieces had to be right, for the assembly to work. Some people saw the paper and instructions on the table and started without waiting for the demonstration. Others ignored the verbal instructions and raced ahead, failing to fully comprehend what was required. Both approaches hindered successful collaboration, as they resulted in pieces that wouldn’t fit in.

During a business coaching session with an entrepreneur who was overwhelmed by work and needed to step back for a short break, we did origami together. He felt as if he was being productive and learning something new, all the while having guilt-free time playing.

A useful model

I taught a colleague how to do origami during lunch breaks. She enjoyed it, and she can see links between the creative process and her work. In her own words:

‘I was asked to talk about how I build an academic timetable. I quickly found a connection to origami. Just like the timetable, origami starts with something small that one can’t immediately see as part of a larger entity. I was able to relate different elements of origami (e.g. coloured paper, pattern to follow, building blocks, etc) to timetable concepts. It was the right approach – not everybody knew timetable terminology but they were successful in understanding the process.’

Ending on a happy note

At the end of a consulting session, I’ve produced a folded creation to show my gratitude or simply lighten the mood. I invite the client to choose a piece of paper, and I make a paper swan, a butterfly or a flower as they watch. The unexpected fun and the gesture of a handmade gift enhances our rapport and generates goodwill.

Ready to fold?

For origami paper and instructions in English, I recommend the online store:  www.origami.com.au
For inspiration, see some of the creations in my Facebook photo album.

Helen Palmer is Principal Consultant at RHX Group. She thinks critically about knowledge work, and how to ensure knowledge isn’t wasted. She revels in tackling the big processes of change and learning, so that ideas become impact. With her colleagues at RHX Group, Helen helps teams make better use of their people, knowledge and information.

how Disney’s Frozen can help avoid a zombie apocalypse

October 19, 2015
tags: ,

An easy DIY monkey trap.

Materials :

  1. A coconut.
  2. A rope.
  3. Something that a monkey thinks they want.

Assembly Instructions:

  1. Attach the coconut to one end of the rope
  2. Secure the other end of the rope to a tree (tree not included).
  3. Make a hole in the coconut that is just large enough for a monkey to get their hand inside.
  4. Place into the coconut what the monkey thinks they want.
  5. Wait.

How does it work?

When the monkey grabs what is inside the coconut it makes a fist that is bigger than the hole. That’s it. Simple huh?

Enter the hunter … which is the end of the story and the end of the monkey whose brain ends up as someone’s dinner. All the monkey had to do to get free is to let go of whatever it thinks it wants. It doesn’t and so is trapped by its own desire.

Poor monkey. A couple of million more years of evolution is all they need to figure it out. We would never get caught like that…

Elsa from the movie Frozen

“Let it go!” (via http://kids.tribute.ca/downloads/)

But we are and we are caught in a much more subtle trap.  We have formed our fist by wrapping our hand tightly around a past that no longer exists.

I think that much of the developed world is trapped in this way – unable to move because it is holding on tightly to how things were, refusing to let go and refusing to admit that it is the longing for the past that is preventing any movement into the future.

Worse still, the vast majority of us are not prepared to admit that we have been imprisoned by our own minds.

We continue to argue that the world still is as it was, that our climate is not changing, that continuous year on year economic growth is both possible and good, that the relationship is salvageable, that the planet and its systems can absorb the wastes and toxins we dump into it each day without any long-term harm.

Continuing to deny the existence of change means we still have something to hold on to, and that can be comforting. It absolves us of the responsibility “Can’t you see that I would like to move, to change, but this thing, this set of circumstances has me trapped here!” It allows us to make the trap responsible – we can point to it and say “if only…“, “it’s not fair…“.

We are afraid because if we admit that what we are clinging to no longer exists we will be left with nothing to hold on to.

We are certain about what the past held for us. We know how things were, we know what we had, we are certain we know who we were. The future is much less certain and probably not as pleasant. Higher unemployment, lower real wages and a lower standard of living are just a few of the things that might meet us there.

It is no surprise we hold so tightly to what we think we had. Letting go requires us to accept that we cannot know what the future holds for us, that we don’t know how things will be, what we will have or, most unsettling of all, who we will become.

If we don’t want our fears to control our future, to serve up our brains in some zombie apocalypse of our own creation, we need to take  advice from Disney’s Elsa and “let it go”. As soon as we do we can remove our hand from the coconut and move into a different and hopefully better future.

One in which we get not only to keep our brains, but to keep using them!

***

If you would like me to come and share with you and your team the benefits that come from my work in the theatre and the experiential learning environments that I create, make me an offer via the Contact Me page.

Here is what some participants have said about their experience with me:

A week out from participating in the Samurai Game with Paul Marshall as facilitator, I am now convinced of what I had merely suspected, minutes out from completion – the Samurai Game has changed my life. Having recounted the ‘story’ of the day to a number of people close to me, from the introduction, to […]

Sara (Solicitor)

The real world is never straightforward, and it’s seldom clear what the right answer is for many of our major decisions – especially if there’s some moral aspect to those decisions – and we have to dig down to our core values to make the decisions we can live with afterwards. It’s not often we […]

Ken Livingston (Senior Business Analyst)

For more on the Samurai Game you should start here and here.

If you enjoyed reading this or my other posts and you would like to read more, you can subscribe and receive them via email simply by putting your email address into the Email Subscription box just on the right of my blog home page. You will receive a confirmation email (which some systems will think is spam so keep an eye on your junk mail) that you need to acknowledge to complete the subscription process.

After you have subscribed, send this post on to your friends. Go on. You know at least one person who should read this post and three more who could use a bit of shaking up… seriously. Do it now. You read this far so send it on! I promise they won’t judge you or think less of you if you do.

what every leader needs – a mirror that can look at you

October 12, 2015

I am not blind but there is one thing I know that I will never see.

This past weekend I again had the privilege to serve sixteen outstanding individuals by facilitating George Leonard’s Samurai Game for them. In our discussions towards the end of the day a theme emerged that was centered around the differences that arose between how we think we show up as leaders and how others experience our leadership efforts.

You might not be blind, but there is one thing I can see that I know you never will.

The day after the Samurai Game I was working with my trainer, the wonderful Tony Lewis on improving my flexibility in my thighs/hips/ lower back/ spine/ shoulder blades. (I list them all because Tony’s experience as Principal Dancer with the Queensland Ballet forms the foundation for his understanding of the importance of working with the whole person not just their individual muscles). I had watched him demonstrate and was doing my best to emulate the new form, checking in the mirrors to try to match what I was doing to what I had seen him do.

Picture of a magic mirror

It is what they say that is magic.

A mirror doesn’t help me see what I can never see because the person doing the looking is me.

The Samurai Game  provides a challenging environment for leaders. Selecting people in your team to undertake tasks based on their skills and abilities is difficult, particularly if you have only just met them that day. It makes the decision even harder when you know, within the metaphor of the game, that they are going into battle and they may not return. Meeting budget or production targets is one thing, but it is hard to think that you are doing a good job leading when you look around and see that half of your team is no longer there.

What we see is rarely the same as what is.

Tony said the new exercise should provide a more dynamic stretch to my hamstrings. I was feeling it in my back and I said so. He looked at me again and suggested some adjustments in the positions of my hands and feet and suggested instead of pushing against I lead with a movement towards. Sure enough my hamstrings started singing and my back was silent.

Looking in a mirror shows us only what we expect to see or what we fear others will see.

The young woman from the Samurai Game said that she thought she had been a terrible leader because her team had lost battle after battle while she had led. A chorus of voices rose in disagreement. She had been thrust into leadership unexpectedly, had made a number of decisions in particularly difficult circumstances and exhibited a strength of character and maturity that had impressed those many years her senior. I think it was hard for her to listen to them at first but as each new member of her team spoke of what they saw as her strength in leadership, she was able to start to see it herself.

The only way I can ever know how I look to you … is if you tell me.

When you are trying to teach me new things the only way you can know I have listened well is if I tell you how it now looks for me. It requires us to have the courage to speak those words clearly and the humility to hear them well.

If you can find someone who can act as a mirror for you and tell you what they can see it will make all the difference to your leadership and your life. Don’t worry, they are not as rare as the fairy tales would have you believe.

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If you would like me to come and share with you and your team the benefits that come from my work in the theatre and the experiential learning environments that I create, make me an offer via the Contact Me page.

Here is what some participants have said about their experience with me:

A week out from participating in the Samurai Game with Paul Marshall as facilitator, I am now convinced of what I had merely suspected, minutes out from completion – the Samurai Game has changed my life. Having recounted the ‘story’ of the day to a number of people close to me, from the introduction, to […]

Sara (Solicitor)

The real world is never straightforward, and it’s seldom clear what the right answer is for many of our major decisions – especially if there’s some moral aspect to those decisions – and we have to dig down to our core values to make the decisions we can live with afterwards. It’s not often we […]

Ken Livingston (Senior Business Analyst)

For more on the Samurai Game you should start here and here.

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