I love this snow metaphor of how our ‘plastic’ brain works….(attributed to Pascual-Leone).
Neuroplasticity is like fresh pliable snow on a hill. When you go down the hill on a sled for the first time, you can be flexible in that you can choose whatever route to take. You can take different paths on your second and subsequent trips too if you like. However, if you choose to take the same path each time, a deeper and more permanent track will develop, and soon it will be difficult to sled down the hill without being ‘stuck in the rut’ you have created. Your route will now be quite rigid, and it will take some effort to break out of the rut and establish new pathways.
In a similar way, neural circuits, once established, tend to become self-sustaining. As Doidge puts it in his book “The Brain that Changes Itself”, neuroplasticity works both ways, it gives rise not only to mental flexibility and growth, but can also lead to mental rigidity and stagnation. Continue reading
Well, that depends! Critical issues and problems more often than not benefit from early attention, and a ‘true sense of urgency’ is usually what is required to break-through barriers, obstacles and resistance.
The real enemies of ‘true urgency’ are ‘complacency’ and ‘false urgency’. You may be familiar with those imposters.
Complacency is a dangerous state of mind, mainly because people rarely believe they are being complacent (at least until after the event). In this state, people are content, satisfied and cling on to the status quo. They don’t look for new opportunities, they are not great fans of change, and tend to stick with what has always worked for them in the past.
False Urgency can be equally dangerous. People displaying this thinking and set of behaviours, are energized, active and busy. They are likely to be anxious or frustrated. Their behaviour can often be mistaken for being productive and important simply because they are busy and active. However, their activity is often misdirected, lacking focus and chaotic.
True urgency is neither of these things. People displaying true urgency do not Continue reading
I was struck by this article by Paul Shoemaker on the “6 Habits of True Strategic Thinkers”. It all makes sense and I am sure most good leaders will know this stuff – at least they will when they are away from the thick of the action.
So, what are the 6 habits effective leaders should form to get strategic?
- Think Critically
A good list (for more detail on what’s behind each item go to the article
) to add to any leader’s toolkit. However, we all have “espoused” theories, and usually they are pretty sound. The problem comes when we start trying to put them into action. What we then see are “behaviours in practice”, which more often than not are quite different from what we say we should or would do
The one additional habit I would add, is STAND BACK and OBSERVE.
This has been expressed in a number of ways by different people. One analogy I like is that of observing the dance-floor from the gallery. Every now and then it makes sense to stop dancing, and observe the dancers from the gallery. Watch their movement, the patterns they make, spot the crowded parts of the floor and watch for the different ways people are dancing. What can you learn? Then, when you rejoin the dance, you will do so with new knowledge, with a fresh perspective, and with strategies to put in to practice.
How often have you thought about your own personal influencing style? And, has it changed over the course of time? If it has changed, has that been as a result of your own careful thought-out intervention and change, or has it happened subconsciously, so that you are only aware of the change as a result of reflection? I suspect that, like most of us, you have not often given it too much thought, especially when in the thick of the action, when deadlines are looming, and decisions just have to be made.
Influencing others is at the very core of Leadership. While that has always been the case, in today’s complex, inter-connected world, it is even more true. To be successful in a world where a leader had direct control over their troops, in an environment where command-and-control was all that was needed, where the tasks expected of people were simply expressed (basically “do-it”, or the slightly more persuasive JFDI), influence was probably less important than straightforward authoritarian directorship.
Effective leaders in today’s business world, recognise that Continue reading
For a long time the received wisdom within the world of brain science has been about structure, fixed neural connections, localization of function and other related concepts. This view was largely influenced by some of the pioneering work of people like Hubel & Wiesel, Nobel Prize winners in 1981.
The idea that the brain may actually be ‘plastic’ in some way, that it may continue to make new connections, and that regions of the brain may actually be able to adapt and become responsible for function that it was not originally ‘mapped’ for, was dismissed until very recently.
The great news is Continue reading
When corporations wanted employees who did only what they were told, employee surveys may have served some purpose. They were rooted in the traditional command-and-control structures, and, no doubt, provided management with a barometer for employee feeling. They may even still provide useful information on improvements to the staff canteen , or how to better manage the car park. But, can employee surveys provide anything useful in businesses that espouse employee empowerment and forward-thinking organisational learning? I am not convinced they can.
They encourage behaviours that leave employees and management in their traditional places. They do not encourage accountability by employees, and they compel management to feel that they need to fix the things that employees tell them need fixing. Neither of these results is healthy and neither does anything to transform businesses or organisations into genuine learning systems. In fact, what we get is individual defensive reasoning and Continue reading
The words of the late great Gerry Rafferty are ringing in my ears today. The ‘squeezed middle’ is constantly being talked and tweeted about. Whether in relation to the controversial NHS bill, or the impact of rising University fees, or proposed changes to Child Benefit, people argue that the most poor and needy have safety nets to protect them, while the richest in our society can afford to pay whatever changes are imposed. It is the poor people in the middle that suffer most. I’m just not sure who is in this ‘middle’ (or should that be muddle) and who is not. Is the middle a narrow slice of our society, squashed between haves and have-nots, or is the middle actually a massively thick wedge accounting for the vast majority of us?
What I do know is that Continue reading
I urge you to have a dip in to the attached eBook. It’s a collection of fantastic ideas and thoughts from an array of thinkers and writers that acts like a ‘guidebook to life’.
You may not find every page of interest or even agree with some of the sentiments, but I am sure you will find one or two nuggets that will really resonate with you.
Seth Godin has done the hard work in pulling it together and it would be very rude of us if we didn’t read it.
What’s more, it’s free. You can browse it in web/blog format or download a PDF version.
Here are some of the highlights that worked for me……..
And much more…..