Don’t just do something, sit there! How multi-tasking is a form of ‘absenting’

After attending the Global Presencing Forum (GPF) in 2014, Celine would like to share a number of lessons that we as Future Considerations practice in order to have greater impact in what we do at work and beyond work. Here is the second in our series of six.

Mindfulness

For me, Peter Senge’s thinking and writing has that kind of transformative nature. Its the kind after which nothing much seems the same again and everything makes more sense. So it was with much anticipation that I watched Peter take to the floor at the GPF. I wasn’t let down. The messages were simple, backed up by latest neuro-scientific thinking and for me at least, a real wake up call:

  • The quality of our attention is the greatest gift we have to offer.
  • Multi-tasking is not giving attention.
  • Multi-tasking is in fact ‘absensing’.

In the age of smartphones and social media, in a ‘have it all’ culture, how do we reclaim our attention and our focus? That, indeed, is the question! At Future Considerations we work virtually and we use various social media applications as a smart way to connect and work with colleagues and clients globally. This brings us much freedom, but also creates a lot of ‘noise’ in the system as we constantly keep up with new messages on our iphones, ipads and laptops. So we also consciously work with mindfulness practices and moments of stillness into our everyday working practices internally and with clients. The inner state of the Intervener is paramount to the quality of that intervention.


Learn more about mindfulness at our upcoming introductory workshop, early bird tickets expire on 5 May 2014:

Introductory Mindfulness Workshop

==

Connect with Future Considerations:


Subscribe to our Newsletter

“It’s all about me, really.” How changing a whole system starts with oneself.

After attending the Global Presencing Forum (GPF) in 2014, Celine would like to share a number of lessons that we as Future Considerations practice in order to have greater impact in what we do at work and beyond work. Here is the first in our series of six.

Mindfulness

In the face of the great complex challenges of our time, Otto Scharmer co-author of Leading from the Emerging Future asserts that the fundamental leadership challenge of our time is shifting from ego awareness (self) to eco-awareness (whole system).

OK, so what’s the trick? How can busy leaders quickly achieve this state of enlightened awareness of the whole, without having to spend a year in silent reflection in a remote mountain retreat? Well, there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that if you are looking ‘out there’ for the answer, you won’t find it. Like all lessons in humility, we must first turn our attention back onto ourselves, to become aware of and suspend our old habits of judgement (mindfulness). From there we can open up to others, empathise, and begin to experience a problem from the other’s point of view (compassion).


So, the good news is that by focusing our awareness inwards, we are able to open our awareness back outwards, and it’s from this point of eco-system awareness that we can tap into our collective capacity for breakthrough innovation and transformative entrepreneurship. The even better news is our (Future Considerations’) experience of working with individual leaders, teams and multi-stakeholder groups shows that the shift from ego to eco-awareness can take place remarkably quickly, sometimes in an instant, through simple personal mindfulness practices and skilfully designed and facilitated group-interventions.

Learn more about mindfulness at our upcoming introductory workshop, early bird tickets expire on 5 May 2014:

Introductory Mindfulness Workshop

==

Connect with Future Considerations:


Subscribe to our Newsletter

Practicing mindfulness: sparking a habit


After one of our more recent Learning Days, George connected us with a description of one of his own mindfulness practices. The following is an excerpt from an interview with him conducted by Michelle James in the “Creativity in Business” Thought Leader Interview Series. To read the full interview, click here.

Mindfulness

Q: What is one approach that people could start applying today to bring more creativity into their work or their business organization?

Pór: One practice I developed, inspired by the work of Otto Scharmer and Francisco Varela, is called “Attention Training with Focus.” It works well for those who find themselves in need of creating a radically new approach to a wicked problem because the others didn’t work; or those in need of re-inventing themselves to match their changing life or work conditions.

Attention Training with Focus is comprised of the following 5 simple stages. Practice it when you have 20 minutes free of distractions. A relaxed but alert body posture is also recommended. You can do it with eyes open or closed, whichever is more comfortable.

  1. Suspend your inner chatter. Pause the continual flow of thoughts, images, and feelings. When you shake off already-formed concepts, you’ll be able to create the opening needed for something new to emerge. Observe your breath – breathing in and out without judging or evaluating it. Don’t be hard on yourself; 3-5 minutes is a good start.
  2. Redirect your attention from external things, or thoughts, to its source. In other words, pay attention to attention itself. When the source become the focus, a subtle but powerful shift occurs that enhances your moment-to-moment awareness in the moment. In that split second you see your world anew – from a perspective of the whole. When that happens, just relax into it. This opens to more creative potential.
  3. Let go of controlling the result of the exercise. If impatience appears, look at it, then let it go. Even if you think you already got a solution, don’t accept it just yet. This is a time for letting go of any preferred future state of the issue or goal you’re dealing with, temporarily giving it up to the unconscious mind.
  4. Hold space for new possibilities to emerge without you pushing them. In that “holding space,” articulate a simple question that is at the heart of your situation. Put it in the focus of your attention but instead of looking for answers, walk around it, and consider it under various angles, in all the contexts in which it has meaning for you.
  5. Listen for an answer to what arises from that unhurried space – a space of possibility uncontrolled by your previous attitudes and opinions. First it may appear as a felt sense, for which you don’t yet have words. Don’t force words into it; instead sense its quality and let words come from it. This gives an opportunity for a new and surprising solution to your problem, challenge or situation.

George, with the support of the Future Considerations community and Community Intelligence Ltd, will be facilitating a number of public programmes on Mindful Leaership in June 2014. If you are interested in learning more about mindfulness practices in life, which can be applied at work, then we would like to invite you to find out more information:

For the Introductory course, please click here

For the Advanced course, please click here


==

Connect with Future Considerations:


Subscribe to our Newsletter

We’re hiring!

We are looking for an experienced business communications/PR professional to join our team. This would be a rolling contract based on a minimum of 4 days a month (approx. 1 day a week). Download a copy of the role decription here.

Timing for recruitment

  • Deadline for application 15th April
  • First interviews week commencing 21st April
  • Start date early May

To apply, please send angela@futureconsiderations.com a short cover letter including your CV,
references, and day rates.

Protected: What will a “future worth having” look like?

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Leading like Madiba: Leadership lessons from Nelson Mandela

As I recovered from the numbness that came with learning about the passing-on of Nelson Mandela, I thought of sharing an article (below) I wrote, some time ago on this extraordinary person’s leadership.

Nelson Mandela

The world is in dire need of great leaders, ones who inspire people not through words but by serving them. The cutting edge in leadership discourse is the old fashioned idea of leadership through service. The whole human race, we could say, desperately needs these servant-leaders who really attend to others and are beacons of hope in our search for a world society where justice, fairness, care for the weaker members of our communities, and love flourish.

The call for leaders who genuinely serve their people is obvious in social and political communities. We can see it equally in the economic sphere, in business organisations or corporations. The high turnover of staff in many work places suggests that people are looking for what Lance Secretan, a Canadian guru on leadership, calls ‘soul space’ – an environment where they will not simply be cogs in the wheel of production but can live full and happy lives.

In my book, Leading Like Madiba: Leadership Lessons from Nelson Mandela , published in March 2006, I have attempted to present through stories the type of leadership that will take our world a higher ground. What is so extraordinary about Mr Mandela’s style and practice of leadership is that it crosses the boundaries of culture, gender, race, religion and age. Madiba (as he is fondly referred to in his home country) has done so in a society that was once more polarized than any other – one the world expected to explode along racial and ethnic lines. That it did not was largely due to this extraordinary man and his unique leadership style. What is equally fascinating about Madiba is the fact that each person that has encountered, in one form or another, his leadership feels personally attended to and served.

Mr Mandela’s leadership transforms ordinary people, events and actions into the extraordinary. Great leadership consists in the capacity to inspire others to greatness. I use the term ‘inspire’ to mean the ability to bring out the best in the people one is entrusted to work and live with. Inspirational leadership, like the yeast that imperceptibly causes the dough to rise and ‘ripen’, permeates society and its institutions in such a way that everyone begins to see their own uniqueness and take up their role in society. Inspirational leadership makes all of us dig deep into the innermost parts of our being to find the very best that lies there and makes it available to others and ourselves. This, in my view, is what great leadership is all about.

The stories I have told in my book show that Mr Mandela inspires the political leader as he does the boxer and the medical doctor; the footballer as much as the pupil and the government bureaucrat; the social activist and the prisoner; a neighbour, a religious leader, a farmer; the artist, the intellectual, the worker in an oil company; the businessman, the street vendor, the widow, the orphan. Through these stories told by ordinary men and women who have been impacted by Madiba’s leadership, I am trying to invite others to reflect on, and perhaps attempt to practice, some of the key qualities of great leadership. The following are the ten key leadership lessons I have distilled from the Mandela stories.

TEN WAYS TO LEAD LIKE MADIBA

1. Cultivate a deep sense of awe for human beings:

Why?
Leadership is about people, and every single person matters.

How can I learn to do this?
Train yourself to treat everyone you come across with utmost respect and honour. Attend to each person as if they are the only ones that exist and matter at that moment.

2. Allow yourself to be inspired by the giftedness of other people:

Why?
For you to be able to inspire other people, you must have sources of inspiration for yourself. Leaders who do not have clear sources of inspiration often fail to inspire others, their organisations and communities.

How can I learn to do this?
Practice to recognise and acknowledge the giftedness of other people. Learn to appreciate the beauty of nature and human genius.

3. Grow your courage:

Why?
Great Leaders have courage. Courage does not mean absence of fear.

How can I learn to do this?
Learn to recognise your fears. This means facing the harsh or brutal realities of your situation and, nevertheless, choosing to follow what you think is the morally right course of action.

4. Lead by example. Where necessary, use words:

Why?
Great leaders have always led by example. People get inspired by and trust those who lead by example. Those who speak very well sometimes impress people. However, those who live by what they believe in always inspire others.

How can I learn to do this?
Do not ask of others what you are not ready to do yourself. At the end of each day, ask yourself how you are working to bridge the gap between your words and your actions. Aim to make the gap narrower each brand new day.

5. Create your own brand of leadership:

Why?
As a leader, your name must symbolise and be associated with a set of values. This is what will make you most effective. All great leaders, while being inspired by others, did it their own way.

How can I learn to do this?
On a daily basis, make an evaluation of how your values are aligned to your words and actions. Consistently try to gauge the kind of impact you have on other people. If it is positive, do what you can to grow and consolidate that. If negative, find ways to adapt or discard it. There is a leadership style and practice that can only be performed best by you. Do it your own way.

6. Practice humility:

Why?
Great leaders practice humility. Humility is the ability to acknowledge one’s limitations and failings. Humility will attract people to you. Arrogance will not.

How can I learn to do this?
When you make a mistake, do not shy away from admitting that you are wrong. Do not see the world through the lenses of your title in society. Simply see yourself as a human being.

7. Learn to live with the Madiba Paradox:

Why?
Life is a mixture of hope and hopelessness, joy and pain, success and failure, vision and disillusionment. You as a leader have the task of helping others to live successfully with these apparent contradictions.

How can I learn to do this?
Learn to live the moment. Learn to live each day as if it was your last opportunity. Learn to live with the paradox of confronting each situation without losing focus on the great opportunity that lies ahead. As a leader, train yourself to be a dealer in hope.

8. Surprise your opponents by believing in them:

Why?
There will always be people who disagree with your leadership style and what you do. Recognising and believing in the good side of everyone around you will win you friends. When you recognise the giftedness of those who consider themselves your enemies, quite often you disarm them. You win them to your side, provided this is done with honesty and goodwill. Do it for others.

How can I learn to do this?
You must make effort to identify and acknowledge, privately and publicly, what is praiseworthy in those who oppose you.

9. Celebrate life:

Why?
Celebrating the achievements of the individuals and groups you are leading generates inspiration and invites people to achieve even more. Achievements are not usually an end in themselves. They are often a sign that we are moving closer to the kind of life we ought to live. Achievements symbolise our hope in the attainment of a better and happier future.

How can I learn to do this?
Celebrate every positive step that an individual or a group of individuals you are leading makes. As a leader, you must create and participate in the practices and ceremonies that honour the life of the people you are privileged to serve.

10. Know when and how to make yourself replaceable:

Why?
Great leaders know how to move themselves from centre stage. They know when it is time to go so that their legacy lives on.

How can I learn to do this?
Prepare for the time when you will leave office. Allow other people to emerge as
your potential successors. Learn to be happy when those you are leading show signs that they will be better leaders than yourself. They are part of the fruits of your labour.

Conclusion

One of the greatest lessons we can learn from athletes and artists is that what we see them displaying on the pitch or stage, is more often than not, a product of many years of repeated practice. They invest more time practicing than performing. It is the same for the habits that make great leaders. They are a result of years of practicing the beliefs and actions of the leaders that inspire them. Acquiring the practices, mental and spiritual discipline that will enable us truly serve others comes from choosing, on a daily basis, to make small and yet incremental improvements in the way we relate with other people. This is also known as Kaizen in Japanese culture; and it means “…constant revision, upgrading and improvement of the status quo – progressing little by little…” If there is anything that distinguishes Mandela from other leaders, it is the fact that he made special effort to live by what he believed in. My guess is that this is what all of us are called to become; especially now that he has passed-on.

==

Connect with Future Considerations:


Subscribe to our Newsletter

Book Review, “Leading from the Emerging Future: From Ego-System to Eco-System Economies”

I have just finished reading the new book Leading from the Emerging Future: From Ego-System to Eco-System Economies by Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kuafer and the following are my reflections.

The authors have blown me away by how they have presented – with utter simplicity and utmost clarity – a compelling and revolutionary ‘manifesto’ for transforming society, organisations, and our own individual lives. I use the term ‘revolution’ because the book is a game changer.

Those that might have found Otto’s earlier book, Theory U, hard to follow will pleasantly discover that the contents of Leading from the Emerging Future: From Ego-System to Eco-System Economies can be easily accessed by both ordinary readers and scholars.

Otto and Katrin point out that as the human race we are generating results that we do not want. This is true whether we are talking about our economic, political, health, or education systems. The authors present irrefutable evidence of how we (and our institutions) have, by predominantly pursuing narrow sectoral and individual interests, trapped ourselves into a zero sum game where we are faced with “crumbling walls” and can only emerge as losers unless we begin to think and act differently.

I am in awe of the authors’ courage to name systems and world-views that are in the forefront of preaching and practicing approaches to life that initially look attractive and yet in the long term can only bring more of the same – massive institutional and system failure and collapse. Some of these ‘systems’ exist and are hard-wired within each one of us. However, this is not who we truly are as humans.

Otto and Katrin do not simply offer reasons for institution and system failure, they also convincingly present alternative approaches. They share compelling pieces of evidence of individuals, organisations and communities that are living and practicing elements of the future society we should be seeking to create on a total human scale (society 4.0).

I have been fascinated by the authors’ capacity to trace and blend old-age ancient wisdom from across generations and cultures with academically sound data, arguments and pieces of evidence. This, in my opinion, is what allows Otto and Katrin to successfully present a compelling vision for the future and the process(es) and practices of how we can all work to get there.

This is a book that I wish all leaders in political, economic and learning institutions should read. I am hopeful that if sufficient numbers of young people, whose future we have almost ruined, read the book; they will have the courage to fast track the pace of change. Arguably, Leading from the Future as it Emerges may come to pass as one of the most important books of all time.

==

Connect with Future Considerations:



Subscribe to our Newsletter

Facing your fear

According to Merriam Webster, fear is:
Fear /fi(ə)r/
noun
a : an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger
b (1) : an instance of this emotion (2) : a state marked by this emotion

While undeniably accurate, it doesn’t necessarily elicit any type of emotion. Perhaps giving a couple of minutes to watch slackliner Faith dickey on youtube may add some reality todefining one type of fear.

She walks across 1-inch wide webbing thousands of feet over canyons, between mountains and moving semi-trucks. Sometime with a harness, sometimes without. Sometimes in heels, sometimes not. Sometime naked, most of the time not. I attended Worldblu Live recently where she shared her experience of living with fear and facing it and describes the moments when those fear ridden thoughts creep in ‘like gnawing rats’ and attempt to eat away at what we know is possible, inhibiting us from what we want.

When I speak with clients I often hear of one particular time and place where fear creeps in and starts to gnaw: performance management. This aspect seems to muster up fear on either side- giving it or receiving it. For those who have felt these pangs of self-consciousness, I would like to share an inspirational Wordlblu Live moment with you. DaVita CEO Kent Theiry (who considers himself more a mayor than a CEO), spoke of how he shares his own 360 feedback with the entire organisation. Once every year, he stands up in front of the DaVita community to be asked questions and share how he will address the areas he scores low on. You can hear him share a similar story here.

This level of transparency is his choice to come from some place other than fear. What would it be like if you were to make a choice like that: to being be more committed to your own development as a leader, not living in fear? What might change if you were be able to stand in front of your team/organisation and be completely vulnerable? What would it take to make the change?

You can start by simply investigating your decisions on a day by day, choice by choice basis to see how fear shows itself in your life decisions (not just in the workplace). The skill in becoming a freedom-centred leader lies here: the moment by moment choices you make for yourself, your team or your organisation. One tool you can use is a ‘fear list’. Write down all of the fears you have have on a daily basis for 5 days. Fear loses power – some if not all of it – simply by naming it. It also allows you to see exactly what you are afraid of and as we know, awareness leads to increased choice. Lately, I have been talking about it like a choice you make of which socket to ‘plug into’. If you plug into ‘fear’, then that will lead you down one set of actions and decisions. If you plug into freedom and with it, trust, purpose and love it leads to a different type of energy and power.

Worldblu is one lighthouse that takes this power and transforms it into light, guiding individual leaders and organisations in the dark of command and control default management. It is a beacon, inviting workplaces to shed their internal fear and by doing so tapping into a type of energy that supports them to achieve new heights, often looking back down on their peers – and that loving your work, living and working as an empowered being, having personal autonomy and delivering great results becomes the new type of default. If you don’t know about it check out their new Freedom Centered Leader programme, specifically designed to support individuals and organizations to lead from freedom and tackle fear.

This is why I passionately support Worldblu personally and professionally (I consult for clients seeking to become Worldblu certified) and am proud that Future Considerations is a leader in this field

==

Connect with Future Considerations:



Subscribe to our Newsletter

Freedom’s Mirror

Can you see freedom? What shape is it? What colour?
Is it like the mirror’s surface never seen but known only by what is reflected there?
The full glory of each of us illuminated by the reflected light.
Its reflections repeating to infinity as freedom multiplies its blessings.

What does freedom sound like?
Yes the joyous laughter of children but also the weepings of a strong man
At last able to speak his sadness to more than the empty silence
Seen for who he really is in that forgiving mirror.
And the swelling shout of the once angry crowd
Now smiling at the soldiers who part to let the flowers
Bloom in their gun barrel vase.
The songs sung together over the factory table,
The silence of communion.

And when did I notice that my own cage locked on the inside?
With the little key already in the lock.
I had to stop running to witness my own captivity for so long not seen or acknowledged.
Even now with the unlocked door opening do I dare to step outside this known, safe world?
Do I dare? Do you? And where should we walk?

Join hands and walk the freedom road.
That way is the destination and the journey
With a path for every walker.

But can I truly have freedom if you or she does not?
Is that freedom a distortion in a broken mirror?

So many questions.
But we are free to ask them.
And seek answers.
When we are free.

Penned by Tim Stanyon April 2013

First performed by Garry Ridge, CEO of WD-40 Company at WorldBlu Live May 2013 (above).

==

Connect with Future Considerations:



Subscribe to our Newsletter

A letter of gratitude and pride

Dear Future Considerations,

This week feels historic for me on Future Considerations’ path and I would love to share with all of you why.

From the perspective of history and purpose, I assess we have had a breakthrough.

In 2008, we (Future Considerations), went through a 5-day regeneration process. During those 120 hours, I saw us return to the very beginning and ask if we should exist at all. We did this based on an assessment amongst us that something was broken and we were off- purpose and not living our values with integrity. Rather than just assuming we should continue to do business, we took it back to the core to see if there was a call, a life force, a heartbeat and whether it was shared and strong enough to continue. By Friday we were left with the thinnest thread, the softest heart tones, the faintest call from the world and yet so visceral. It was there and while it was barely enough, it was enough. I would say we looked death right in the face and asked, “Is this what the future that wants to happen?” And the answer was ‘No – there is more for you to do together’. For myself, I had to be willing to let it all go – the company, personal gain, sweat and love. A team I recently worked with used the metaphor of pruning and nurturing. We had to be willing to be pruned to be able to cleanly, authentically be recreated.

A short while after our 5 days together, I was in London and Jaroslav agreed to do one of his impactful future visioning sessions with me. As I described to him what I saw, he took my words and sketched them. What emerged was an image of a neural network – all segments of society, all industries going through a regeneration process for the purpose of aligning themselves with and for the common good. Those who could no longer align themselves to a role in this larger organism of humanity and the planet stopped existing, and, therefore stopped harming it. Those who could ‘re-purpose’ themselves for the common good continued to live and to ask from a different level, ‘What is our purpose or contribution or function in relation to serving the whole?’ And I saw that we, Future Considerations, having faced this ourselves as a business and organization were in a truly unique position to contribute wholeheartedly to this global regeneration process.

This week I saw this vision come into fruition.

Tim and I joined an executive team and shared a journey with them to articulate purpose within their vision and to define the purpose of leadership within the organisation for the sake of becoming a freedom-centred workplace.

We walked with the team through their organizational timeline, identifying key events and people, and they gave each person and event their place in history. The elephants in the room were brought up as we went along and there was much disbelief that they could talk about them without fear and destructive conflict. While our model palette was filled with a plethora of frameworks to support the meaning making process, it was our story that the team wanted to hear. We were introduced as having led our business through a transformational journey like this team was coming together to experience. Tim had been MD at the time (in 2008), sparking a curiosity as they listened to him share what it was like to lead through this time and how we moved through it. I shared the reality of what is often at stake as the founders of the original company (now acquired) were in the room. They wanted to know how ‘it’ worked, what happened and how things were now – about our employee ownership, constitution, company circle, annual elections, etc.

By the time we came together to begin articulating a common vision and purpose, the team was at a stage where we could support breaking their old patterns such as not taking decisions and taking things ‘offline’ when the discussion would get heated. We held them to it, to come to a decision and gather full alignment on their vision. We were rapidly prototyping, small groups, testing alignment and insisting on 4 out of 5 before we would move forward. Despite trying at one point to give the vision over to the marketing people to ‘finish’, they stuck with it and finally they the result not only of an inspiring vision, but they also got to experience the high of achieving something truly together. They went on to articulate the purpose of their company within their vision (using Collins and Porras definitions) and also the purpose of leadership within the organisation.

I believe for each of us, when we look back, we can see such a clear path of how all-previous experiences have prepared us perfectly for the step we are taking in the present moment. In that, I declare this interaction as a collective Future Considerations contribution to this business, effecting 450 employees reaching 55 countries. All of whom are out to revolutionize their industry and believe that when everyone is in a job they love – nothing will be impossible for humanity to achieve in this world.

As Tim aptly read at the end of the session,

Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate
But, that we are powerful beyond measure
It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us
We ask ourselves,
‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
Your playing small does not serve the world’.

I have seen the real power of us not playing small and sharing our own story and bringing our purpose – to help leaders face the great challenges of our time – to life. For me, transforming the workplace from fear to freedom is truly one of our great challenges. For again, I believe, that working in freedom will mean nothing is impossible – even a sustainable planet where all parts exist in harmony (our vision).

As we were talking about the values of our client, I was compelled to revisit our own. Courage, integrity and learning came first to mind, and as I reconnected with care and authenticity – I could see all of these so alive in our work as a team, as partners and as consultants and human beings in this project.

It matters to me that others hear and know about this work and that we find a way increasingly to share what we are doing, at this level of story, with each other. Our heart and soul are here and I look forward to sharing more and learning more from all of us about how we can better live our best ‘re-purposed’ selves in service of our vision.

With love and gratitude and pride,
Cari

==

Connect with Future Considerations:



Subscribe to our Newsletter