While Our Future Self Wants To Be Trim And Fit, Our Present Self Wants A Doughnut.

Thrive in Five: June

6 MinutesIn Thrive in Five

This weekend sees me marching with 100 others in my local festival to celebrate 100 years of the first legislative results of the Suffragette movement; taking my Dad to see Billy Joel at his beloved Old Trafford, and then on Sunday, my youngest to see “War Horse”. This month’s Thrive in Five is a similarly eclectic mix with no discernible theme, but let me know if you find one….

Essentialism: the disciplined pursuit of less” by Greg McKeown (scroll to the bottom of this link for a 4 minute video which summarises the book). The hypothesis is that success causes our failure – that when we succeed we do more, are asked to do more, and our disciplined focus that caused the initial success disappears. I feel this can be true at an organisational level too – we get some success with a strategy or approach and we don’t stick with it long enough, we start expanding too early.

He talks about developing the art of the “quick no and slow yes”; that when overwhelm comes at us, the question “what do I need to do to go to sleep peacefully”, combined with “what might I like to do someday as a result of today” can help cut through things. I use the expression “do what is small enough to change and big enough to matter” often, and he builds on this idea. He proposes we look for small changes we can make to the things we do the most often, to identify “minimum viable progress” (done is better than perfect) and “minimum viable preparation” (e.g. take 15 seconds to capture objectives for a meeting or call, when we book the meeting or call).

It’s an easy read – probably a few hours in total, and the lessons and tips are well signposted so you can skim it too.

Are you using visual cues in your work and home life? We are highly visual beings – “love at first sight” and “out of sight, out of mind”. Research shows we remember visual images far more easily than written ones. We remember faces long after we have forgotten names. But when we grow up, we stop using star charts and in going open plan, we seem to have stopped using the walls altogether.

The visual cues don’t have to be sophisticated – tallies of calls made, stuck on a big flip chart on the wall; charts showing cumulative sales that people can add to; client logos stuck on the wall; two jars in front of us, one containing clips or pegs or marbles, that we move to the other jar when we make a biz dev call, so we see the progress; leave your trainers by the front door; leave your floss on the sink. Experiment with visual cues this week and let me know how you get on.

I had the privilege of being part of an outstanding team that put on the first TEDxMacclesfield a few weeks ago. For anyone interested, you “simply” apply for the TEDx license and put on the event. You are limited to 100 attendees for the first five years – unless you attend the global TED.

This is my favourite talk of the morning, by Clay Nikifarouk: 13 minutes urging us to each be more caring when someone shares a mental health issue with us. She is a comedian by profession but there is nothing humorous about her hypothesis that the reason people aren’t talking about their mental health needs is because we just aren’t that good at responding well when people do, especially in work situations. Thought provoking.

The daily Switch newsletter by The Washington Post is a valuable prompt in my in box, with a perspective I don’t otherwise get, working mainly in professional services environments. It describes itself as the place where Tech and Policy connect. This latest piece on the 15 default settings to change, post GDPR, on Windows 10, Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon is typical of the content. Plenty of AI related pieces too, written in non-specialist language.

A three minute read by Ruth Ibegbuna on her love and adoration of John Barnes, who “saved this young black girl from believing she was less than the blonde girls” in her class. Funny and salutary, especially during anti-bullying week, I finished it with tears in my eyes – and I am very much not a Liverpool fan.

There is the famous Harvard Business Review that said that we needed to give five positive comments for every negative one. Let’s go into the weekend with this aim in mind – and in this spirit, feel free to send me any thoughts about this newsletter.

Hope the weekend is all you want it to be.