Really interesting Ted talk by Clay Shirky – I loved his ideas around how we can now collaborate in ways that we couldn’t before (this is a talk from 2005 – prescient), and the implications for institutions. In a nutshell, it’s not necessary anymore to create an institution in order for people to collaborate – it can be done over the internet…
OK, so this is a pretty blatant shout out for the place where I studied coaching. Studied Coaching? The language is not quite right – it was more like a coaching apprenticeship, or an alchemical process of becoming, rather than just the book-learning that the word ‘study’ implies. Anyway, if you’re interested you can read the full article here – there are some interesting comments on the renewed growth in coaching after a slowdown in recent years, and also on how fly-by-night operators are seen as one of the greatest potential threats to the continued growth and success of coaching as a profession.
Here’s a really interesting (and refreshingly short) TED talk by behavioural economist Daniel Kahneman. In it, he talks about happiness, and distinguishes between the experiencing self and the remembering self. Watch the talk to get the gist of it, but it’s a deceptively powerful distinction (deceptive because it seems so simple). The way that we experience happiness moment-to-moment, is very different to the kind of happiness (or lack thereof) that we might feel when we reflect back on our life. Interestingly, this reflection process is a process of story-telling (or story making), which reminds me very much of the underlying principle of narrative coaching…
[The title of this blog posts refers to a comment that he makes at the end of the talk. Apparently a Gallup poll on 600 000 Americans found that, above the level of R40 000 a month, income makes absolutely no difference to happiness. So that’s my new goal – make R40 000 each month and spend the rest of the time surfing…]
One of my favourite podcasts is ‘The Partially Examined Life’ – it’s philosophy for non-professional philosophers, presented with a sense of humour by a couple of non-professional American philosophers. Recently they’ve been discussing a book by Owen Flanagan on Buddhism and Naturalism – in other words, looking at what neuroscience and other branches of natural science tell us about our mental states, for example our level of happiness (or positive affect, to use a psychological term), and comparing that to the teachings of Buddhism. As is usually the case on these podcasts, the discussion is wide-ranging and contains lots of fascinating exploration of topics around human happiness, what that might be, and what it might mean to live a life in which one ‘flourishes’ (to go back to Aristotle’s definition of eudaimonia). Particularly interesting for me as a coach, given that at some level we are always engaged with ‘meaning’, and with what it might mean to live a ‘good life’.
There’s a slide that we were shown quite early on in the first coaching course that I ever did, illustrating the difference between commitment and desire. As with so many things in coaching education, the slide keeps cropping up over and over again for me. What is quite an easy concept to understand intellectually, turns out to be not as easy to apply in life. How often do we do things out of desire rather than acting in accordance with principles that we have explicitly committed ourselves to? I guess this is the power of dogmatic religions – they provide a community of people to support you in sticking to a set of principles that you have committed to by joining that religion.
I attended a workshop with the wonderful Wendy Palmer last week. There was so much in what she said that I’d love to share via this blog, so keep an eye out for future posts on her work. But for now I just want to pick up something she said about inclusiveness as one of the key features of leadership. By inclusiveness she means giving your team (or any group that you are leading) the sense that ‘we’re in this together’. That’s it. Simple. Just ask yourself whether you are giving your people the sense that you’re all in it together (whatever it might be).
In a number of my recent coaching engagements I have given my clients articles by Daniel Goleman. I can still remember reading ‘Emotional Intelligence’ years ago, and I guess in the people development space he’ll always be considered as something of a pioneer – the man who coined the acronym EQ (did he?) and put it alongside IQ as something that we needed to pay as much, if not more, attention to. I think for many of my clients that’s what the early stages of their coaching journey is about – starting to attribute equal importance to developing their EQ competencies, as they’ve up to this point given to their technical abilities.
Waiting in the queue at home affairs, I start to become impatient and resentful about the fact that I have to be here and have to wait for so long just to get my passport renewed. In some part of my mind there’s a conversation taking place about how it shouldn’t be like this, government departments should be more efficient, queues should move quickly and without friction.
And then I catch myself. The world in which this ideal version of home affairs exists is not a real one (not in South Africa anyway). In this world there are queues and delays. And there’s a choice – to feel frustrated and bemoan the state of bureaucracy, or to accept the world the way it is and adapt to it as best you can. Maybe take a book along with you and read it in the queue.
I’m not saying there isn’t a place for wanting to improve things, but if that’s your intention then find a constructive channel for it. If you’re just trying to get your passport renewed, probably best to accept and adapt.
I just completed the ICF Global Coaching Study, being administered by pwc. It seems like a worthwhile effort to investigate the views of coaches and other stakeholders in the coaching profession, with regard to issues like – should coaching be regulated and by whom? what are the major challenges facing coaches? how important is coaching accreditation.
You can take the survey here: http://www.coachingstudy2011.com/
I went to a talk at the GSB tonight by radical business thinker Lars Kolind. The main thrust of his talk was this concept of the unboss – someone who motivates a loose network of people around a common purpose that they are passionate about. Or, said another way, someone who leads a movement rather than someone who captains a ship.
He pointed to modern day phenomena like Skype and Wikipedia – small core groupings of committed people who coordinate the efforts of large groups of passionate volunteers / customers. In the case of Skype, it’s customers basically market the product to their friends, and in the case of Wikipedia a group of volunteers who create an encyclopedia that rivals anything that Brittanica ever created.
The thing that really resonated for me was this concept of passion – that in order for a modern day company (movement?) to be successful it must start with a purpose that reflects the passion of its founders, and then it must infect others with that passion.
A friend and I went on to discuss whether you find your passion or whether you create it. We decided that it was a mixture of both. But perhaps we can leave that conversation for another day…