In the minds of many, change is a dirty word. When we hear ‘change’, we think disruption of sorts. A threat. Something that ruins the status quo and forces us to go back and break what’s comfortable for us.
So change tends to have a negative connotation.
That’s because we associate change with external situations. Change in our circumstances, change in our environment, change in other people, change in systems or processes, change in having to do things differently because of other people.
All of this is change that is out of our control. And most people feel uncomfortable when they are unable to control a situation. We instinctively seek safety, and change threatens that safety.
But what about change that is within our control?
This is the kind of change many people neglect as we tend to focus on the ‘external’ rather than the ‘internal’.
We continue to struggle as we wait for the economy to reach ‘normality’. We wait for the market to change and recognise the value we offer. We wish our employees could be this way or that way. We give out about all the things our employer does wrong.
Here’s the thing – any one of these elements of our environment may or may not change. And we have zero control over them, which puts us in a weak position.
However, what you do have control over, is yourself.
You can change.
And you can decide what to change, when to change, and how to change. And that’s powerful. It puts you back in the driving seat.
And here’s something even deeper many of us don’t realise. By changing you; you have the power to change your environment and circumstances. In fact, positive change on the outside is only ever initiated by change on the inside first.
There’s a quote by Jim Rohn, which has been a guiding light for me for many years now, and it says:
“For things to change, you’ve got to change.
For things to get better, you’ve got to get better”
But what does it mean?
Well, external change is inevitable.
We can react negatively to it. And we can spend our time and energy giving out about it. We can blame others for our circumstances, and we can resent others for what they have done to us.
But in order to make a real difference, we need to look internally.
Consider it this way. If you’re experiencing people, events or circumstances that you perceive to be adverse to you – then take it as a feedback mechanism for what you need to change internally.
If people are constantly challenging you and bringing you down; then where in your life are you being proud?
If circumstances aren’t the way you’d like them to be; then what is the fantasy you are addicted to?
If you’re resentful for the changes that are going on around you, or of some people that are in your life; then what are the parts of them that you have not yet recognised exist in yourself?
I use the analogy of the pendulum…the pendulum always wants to be in a state of equilibrium. If it swings too far in one direction, then forces will be brought to bear in order to bring it back to equilibrium.
You are that pendulum.
You are constantly being forced into a state of equilibrium.
In life, these can be events, people, or circumstances that show up in your life to help you to change. They are all a feedback mechanism.
And if you’re addicted to a particular outcome, dream or fantasy, then you will attract the opposite.
It’s all to bring you into a state of equilibrium. And it can be proved time and time again.
Reflect on your own life and find the evidence for yourself.
So for things to change, what is it that you need to change within yourself?
Secondly, just as in your personal life as it is when it comes to your business, if you want your personal life to be better, then you’ve got to get better.
If you want your business to be better, then you’ve got to make your business better. This can be in terms of your operations, your customer service, or the product or service you offer.
If you’re not getting better, then you reach a point of being stagnant. When that happens, then there will be no end of people or competitors that will overtake you and gain a bigger slice of the market.
In Japanese businesses, they use the word Kaizen. Which means continuous improvement.
How are you making yourself better in your personal life; but also how are you making your business better and more valuable for your customers, or how are you making yourself better for your employer?
The better you become, the more valuable you become.
“For things to change, you’ve got to change.
For things to get better, you’ve got to get better”
If you would like to discuss the above subject matter in more detail for you, your business or your organisation, feel free to reach out.
Do you remember your parents ever saying “silence is golden”?
In other words when the children have gone to bed and there’s quiet in the house, it’s just bliss.
As a parent myself, when the kids were much younger, I can relate to this.
But what about when it comes to your business? In that case, silence may not always be golden.
As owners and managers, we say we want feedback from our employees and peers; but then when it’s received, how do we react?
It’s human to get offended and therefore defensive when we receive negative feedback. We tend initially not to see it as an opportunity to learn something new about ourselves.
And when we see someone else that oftentimes are delusional about their view of themselves or their ideas, we remain silent, perhaps for fear that we’ll upset them.
Just like when Simon Cowell tells a participant on the X-Factor that they can’t sing, the reaction from the audience says it all – it’s not good to say things as it is.
In that situation where the participant has not been told the truth by their parents, siblings and relations; what’s the right thing to do?
Allow the person to continue on throughout their life believing that they’re going to be an amazing successful singer, and encourage them along the way, or should they be told early on so as to lower their expectations?
And on the other hand, when we see something that is wrong or we feel it’s not the right thing to do morally, we keep quiet.
So let’s take a look at three types of silence that are detrimental to your organisation:
Morrison and Milliken define Organisational Silence as a behavioural choice that can deteriorate organisational performance.
Employees often have ideas, information and opinions for constructive ways to improve work and organisations. Sometimes these employees express their ideas, information and opinions; and other times they remain silent and withhold their views.
The effects of organisational silence is detrimental to organisations often causing an escalating level of dissatisfaction among employees. This manifests in absenteeism, low productivity and turnover. It kills innovation and results in poorly planned and executed projects, low morale and a damaged bottom line. This attitude can also affect the well-being of employees, with some developing depression and other health problems.
The creation of a climate of silence in an organisation is said to be caused by managers’ fear of receiving negative feedback, especially from subordinates. Another factor is that managers often hold the view that employees are self-interested and untrustworthy, and will therefore discourage upward communication.
This is compounded by the belief amongst employees that speaking up about problems is not worth the effort, and voicing one’s opinions and concerns is dangerous to their career.
In research that was carried out, supervisors’ attitude to silence were found to be the strongest predictor of silence behaviour. This means that employees may formulate a silent behaviour according to how they perceive their supervisors’ attitudes to opinions being expressed.
So when it comes to your organisation; how much are your managers encouraging and receptive to feedback, opinions, ideas and views from their team? How can open and honest feedback be improved in your organisation?
Willful Blindness is a term used in law to describe a situation in which a person seeks to avoid civil or criminal liability for a wrongful act by intentionally keeping himself or herself unaware of facts that would render him or her liable.
In order words, the person intentionally turns a blind eye to an ethical problem and subsequently pleads ignorant of facts.
Perhaps what will come to mind for you will be the movie, Erin Brockovich starring Julia Roberts. But there are many situations where willfull blindness persists – in banks and financial institutions where products were mis-sold; in the churches where decades of child abuse were hidden; in the entertainment industry where we see the results of the #MeToo campaign.
It exists in organisations both small and large, where people turn a blind eye to an ethical issue and choose to keep silent. It happens in communities, and it happens in families.
Influences like people’s fear of repercussion if they report it, or the view that an individual’s opinion is not going to make a difference, or the view of how whistle blowers are treated; all lead to people keeping silent. But under law, pleading ignorance cannot be a defence under the terms of Willful Blindness.
Like Organisational Silence described above, what are you doing to detect unethical practices within your organisation? What happens if it’s endemic from the top down? What is the right thing to do?
Have you ever sat at your desk daydreaming for a better life?
You perform your duties to the best of your ability, but yet inside you’re deeply unhappy.
You have issues going on in your life that brings you to the point of questioning your self-belief and confidence. You’re unsure about your future and as a result you take longer to make decisions. And perhaps you’ve had many dark nights of the soul. But you can’t tell anybody about how you’re really feeling inside. What will they think? How will it affect your career? What will you do?
We say we want open conversations about mental health. But in reality, as an organisation do we really?
The impact for the individual are just as high-risk as they are for the company. For the individual, they may be wondering how it’s going to affect their career path if they say anything. The organisation on the other hand is worried about the consequences of knowing that an individual is under a lot of stress, or even depressed.
What will the company do? What will it cost them? How will they handle it? They can’t be seen to want the individual out of the company. What if they go off on long-term sick leave, then what?
Through my mentoring with organisations, the number of times I’ve had conversations with individuals in executive positions that are feeling depressed to the point of suicide ideation, are countless.
Yet thankfully they feel comfortable telling me, safe in the knowledge that it’s not going to be spoken about, but yet we can help to eliminate their dark feelings, which gives them huge relief.
As an individual, who are you turning to, to get help with your dark feelings, your self-questioning about your confidence and your self-worth?
As an organisation, what are you doing to allow your employees a forum to discuss their issues, without them feeling there is a risk? It’s not an option to turn a blind eye.
There’s no doubt in my mind that when it comes to discussions about depression and suicide, we’re going to see a lot more people trying to battle with it, deep within their own personal silence. It’s becoming an epidemic, and the conventional way of dealing with depression is not going to make the grade.
So you see, whether it be organisational silence, willful blindness, or personal silence, the fact of the matter is, sometime silence is not always golden.
But it is a very serious issue for your organisation, your employees, your profitability, productivity, your customers and your community.
But the real question is, what are you going to do about it for your business?
If the above has raised any concerns for your organisation, feel free to get in touch so that we can discuss more about what can be done to address these important issues for your business.
To find out more about Willful Blindness, take a look at this Ted Talk.
On the subject of Organisational Silence and the findings from research, check out these two reports:
Is this an option for you?
This year so far I have taken over 30 flights to and from a multitude of airports, and I’ve often wondered why are industrial roofs not used to advertise and create passive income?
Imagine this for yourself – you’re coming into land at an airport and as the aircraft makes its approach you see all the industrial units in the landscape.
The vast majority of industrial units are single-story flat roof buildings. Yet the owners of the buildings don’t use the roof as advertising space, and in turn create a passive income.
And can you imagine the amazing creative ideas that big brands could come up with, either with just one roof or with multiple roofs.
The cost would be minimal with the use of self-adhesive vinyl and easily applied and changed. So that’s not a prohibitor. And once it doesn’t distract pilots with glare or lights then from a planning standpoint there shouldn’t be an issue. Perhaps it’s just that nobody has thought about it … yet!
By end 2018 in excess of 30million passengers will travel through Dublin airport alone.
Can you imagine the volume of passengers travelling through all airports globally?
What else can you think of to create a passive income?
Over the past eight years there has been a craze hitting business owners globally. To the point that no matter what business conference you go to, or business coach/consultant you talk to; you get to hear about this craze!
“Start With Why – People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it!”
Since I first heard this statement, it has never sat well with me, and perhaps for you too?
And because the phrase was given a rhythmic feel to it, it has become a common phrase amongst the populous. A bit like a jingle in an advert. But that’s the point of a jingle. To make it memorable. A bit like Martin Luther King, “I have a Dream” speech.
So much so that now several people have come out with similar models for business. Whether it be concentric circles starting with Why you do it, then How you do it, and finally What you do.
Here’s the thing, a model can be created about anything, and made to fit whatever it is you want to convey.
We could have a circular four-square model representing the four seasons, spring, summer, autumn and winter. We can have a pyramid model like what is used in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Models exist because it is an easy way of representing and understanding a lot of information for people to remember.
What this particular model has done however, is throw business owners into a spin. It has brought them to the point of stagnation let alone despair. Why? (excuse the pun) Because now they feel that in order for them to sell their product or service, they need to have a strong compelling WHY for their business.
No you don’t!
People DON’T buy WHY you do it.
Here’s the truth…
When it comes to selling a product or a service, people don’t buy why you do it.
When was the last time you asked your accountant, your solicitor, shopkeeper or candlestick maker why they do what they do, before you decided to buy whatever it was they were selling?
Make a list of the last ten things you bought – products or services.
Now ask yourself, why did you buy it.
Ask yourself, do you know WHY the person that sold you the product or service, is in business for in the first place.
Take a look at the most successful companies in the world which are listed on the Fortune 500.
Do people buy the products/services from the companies listed on the Fortune 500 because their owners have a compelling WHY?
People don’t buy WHY you do it.
They don’t buy WHAT you do.
They don’t buy HOW you do it.
Here’s what people buy.
People Buy Results
We don’t need a complex model for it. We don’t need a jingle. It’s simple – people buy results.
Whether it be a business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) business, people buy results.
Whether it be a business selling a product, or a business selling a service, people buy results.
They buy the result they are looking for.
Whether it be a feeling, an experience, a saving in time or money, a win, an improvement, an answer … it’s the result that they want to achieve that makes them buy.
They will even queue overnight in their thousands if it means they will be able to buy the result they are looking for.
Whether it be to save money on a large screen tv in a black Friday sale, or whether it is tickets that are sold in seconds for a concert; because people want the result of an amazing experience at a concert of an artist they are passionate about.
They’re not buying because the TV manufacturer, or the artist has a passionate WHY. They’re buying because of the result they are going to get.
If you have children, have you ever queued outside a store from the early hours of the morning so as to be able to get into the store early to buy your child the latest toy craze? I bet you have.
I did … it was the time Tellytubbies hit the market in 1997/98. My kids were 3 and 1 at the time. And there were four tellytubbie toys that could be bought, which were the characters from the TV show.
Was I buying because the company had a compelling WHY?
Absolutely not. I was buying because I wanted to experience the amazing joy and excitement my kids would have in unwrapping their presents and playing with their favourite characters.
People buy results.
When you’re going to your accountant to have your tax return completed, you’re not buying from him because you know he has a compelling reason for being in business in the first place. You’re buying from him because you trust that he will reduce your tax bill.
When you’re buying from a lawyer, your buying because you trust him to deliver on winning your case.
Think of it another way – with all the advances in science, we know WHAT each part and HOW each part of our body functions. Take your foot for example. We know that when we take a step, we know the exact articulation of each bone and muscle in the leg and foot which makes up each stride (well the doctors do!).
But we don’t know WHY it does what it does!
We never ask WHY.
We never ask why it is that our foot moves in the way that it does. Or our heart operates in the way that it does. Or a flower blossoms in the way that it does. It just does. And the result that we get from it, is what we are looking for.
Since trade began before Jesus Christ, and for a long time well into the future, people will always buy results. The method of trade may change. It has gone from bartering, to tokens, to coins, to cheques, to blockchain, to whatever might be next. But the bottom line is, people buy results.
If you’re trying to lead a company, then it is what you believe in which is important. This is where your why comes into play.
People will follow your leadership because of your why, your beliefs, your purpose and what you are trying to achieve. As a leader, this is where your why is important.
But if you want your product or service to sell, then the results you deliver is why people buy. So when it comes to you marketing your product or service, think about the results your customers are looking for and communicate to them in terms of this.
What’s your thoughts?
Feel free to share this article with your colleagues and friends so as to take them out of their misery of running around searching for their why!
Two conversations rule our lives today: the one about success and the one about failure. There’s hundreds if not thousands of articles written on how to achieve success and how to avoid failure. Well, in my experience, the only real difference between people who succeed and those who fail is in their ability to control fear.
We all have fears, it’s a fact of life. It’s about survival instinct and it is completely normal. Generally speaking, however, people who succeed in business are those who are aware of their fears, who accept their fears as something normal and thus decide to control their fear rather than let fear control their lives.
To control fear first you need to understand it. You need to understand why you fear and what it is you are really afraid of?
Once you’ve got the answer to these questions, it is a matter of choice whether you let your fears rule your life or you decide to put them aside and focus on the task at hand.
Here’s some answers for you. We fear because:
We take life too seriously
Many of us feel stress mainly because we take life too seriously and hence what we are doing on a daily basis the same way. What we never ask ourselves however is why. Why are we treating what we are dealing with as though our life depends on it.
And the more important question – does it really?
Years ago, at one of my first jobs my boss, who I admired for his ability to stay calm in the hardest of situations, saw me stressing out about an upcoming event at work that I was in charge of. He asked me to stop for a moment and ask myself the following question “Will this event matter to you in 5 years time? Will it have any real impact on your life?”
I quickly realised what the obvious answer to this question was – No. No, it won’t. Then he went on to ask me “Then why are you acting as if it will, letting it take over your life and ruin your day?”
Good question huh!
Will this matter to you in 5 years? is a fundamental question. Ever since this incident I’ve used it to keep my fears in check and not let them ruin any of my days.
Whenever I feel my stress levels are rising I just ask myself will this matter in 5 year time. And in 99.9% of the cases the answer is – No, it won’t.
Realising a simple fact as this, is liberating. It shifts your focus from the fear of what may happen to just making sure you do your best whatever the situation. Because at the end of the day, all you can really do in any situation is give 100%, the rest is out of your control. Hopefully everything will be ok, but things do go wrong sometimes and that’s ok too as long as you realise it’s not the end of the world.
So every time you feel anxiety just ask yourself: Will this matter in 5 years time?
We don’t want to fail
Most of the time our fears, whatever they may be disguised as, come down to one fear really – the fear of failing. Because we define failure as something negative, we want to avoid it at any cost. So we are constantly preoccupied with the troublesome possibility of failing. I admit that the disappointment that comes as a direct results from failure is quite unpleasant but failure in itself is not always a bad thing.
If you think about it, failure is nothing but achieving an outcome that is different from the planned or intended one. And disappointment is the most natural response in this situation. In fact, most of the time it is disappointment that we fear rather than the outcome itself.
But if you just ask yourself this simple question: So what if I fail?, you will realise that while it may be a bit unpleasant, it won’t be the end of the world.
And yet we let our fears stop us from going after what we want……
I work with this incredibly talented young entrepreneur who is brilliant in his field but really insecure when it comes to proactively going after potential clients. He is afraid to pick up the phone and ask for business and really nervous when he has to talk to people about the services he provides. Naturally, this is a problem as he doesn’t have a steady inflow of clients.
When we sat down to talk about it and we got to the bottom of his insecurity, it became clear that what stopped him was his own fear of people not liking his ideas. He was afraid that rejection would make him feel as if he’s not good enough, as if he’s failed.
I told him that of course some people won’t think they need his services and of course many people will reject him but so what? Surely there will be also many people who will be happy he reached out to them and helped them. Rejection is just part of the process and the sooner he accepted this part, the easier it would be. This is a simple fact and while this is quite obvious somehow it hadn’t occurred to him that of course there will be rejection.
Once he made his peace with that and stopped treating rejection as failure or a sign of incapability he was much calmer and eventually got really good at pursuing clients.
So whenever you feel stressed about something, don’t forget to ask yourself So what if I fail?
You will get up, you dust yourself off and you move on. And you will be one step closer to succeeding the next time. Failure is just a part of life. The part without which success wouldn’t exist either.
We imagine the worst case scenario
Our fears are also closely related to what we imagine would happen if we fail. Think about it and you’ll realise that your underlying belief is that failing in this or that will unleash a series of events that will have a long term adverse effect on your whole life.
If you fail this project, you will lose a client and if that happens and you lose another one down the road, you won’t be able to pay the salaries, and you will have to let some of your staff go and eventually your business will go downhill. Suddenly, in your mind, losing one client equates to losing your business and that’s just never really the case.
Similar scenarios play out in our heads daily but according to research our worst fears never actually materialise. It is all in our minds. Thus, the only realistic danger is that of letting our fears from possible negative outcomes take over our life.
So whenever you feel afraid, just ask yourself:
What’s the worst that can happen? But also: Is it truly realistic?
If you lose this one account, you won’t be able to pay your bills? If you can’t pay your bills your business will go under? If your business goes under you won’t be able to rebuild it? You won’t be able to figure something else out? There won’t be anybody to lend you a hand? You will end up homeless?
There’s a lot of ifs before you hit whatever you define as rock bottom. But even if you do, that’s not necessarily bad in the long run. Let me remind you that many self made millionaires and celebrities were penniless and even homeless before they achieved massive success.
I believe it is indeed due to the fact they hit rock bottom that they succeeded. Because at rock bottom you have nothing to lose, so you are free of the fears that were holding you back before.
Maybe the rock bottom, that you are so afraid of, is nothing but a blessing in disguise.
So take life as it comes and don’t worry too much. As they say:
Never take life too seriously. Nobody comes out if it alive anyway.
Don’t over-think it, take your chances, do your best, keep getting up after you fall and keep trying until you get what you want. Don’t let your fears live your life for you.