Acting your age, not your shoe size?

We probably all know a few younger people who act old before their time. Not responsibly and maturely. But staid, conservative and self-limiting.  But how do older people stay young?

Some of the ways are to not think of retiring (ever), have friends in age-group-decades younger than yours, engage in sports & travel to new places and keep a good sense of humour.

Look after your boy (stay fit & supple) when you’re young, so your body will stay fit & health later in your life. And when you’re older, deliberately choose activities to keep you relatively fit & supple – gardening, dance, swimming, hiking, cycling and home DIY are some examples. Have reunions with old friends re-creating some activities you did in the past.

Appearance-wise, find a middle ground between being ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ and thinking you are celebrating retro, but looking like you walked out of a Victorian period movie! Also on the subject of balance, all your best memories of fun times shouldn’t be from twenty years ago, but instead, they should be from every decade of your life.

Don’t keep harking back to ‘the good old days’, which after all had both their good and bad points, just like today’s World. And try harder to remember what you’ve said to various people, so you don’t get a reputation for repeating yourself, something older people are prone to doing.

Mental dexterity is a big part of staying youthful too. As you become a twenty something, thirty something, middle-aged, or late middle-aged, keep learning new things. to shake up your neural pathways – my dad started learning new languages well into his seventies.

Take the road less travelled to sharpen up your adaptability and improvisation skills. Challenge yourself to entertain young children at family gatherings, since they’ll be bored to death hanging around the other adults, who are making zero effort to make it fun for them.

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If you take photos, even on your smartphone, keep searching for new angles and compositions to make the pictures more interesting.

Having a mid-life crisis may be fashionable. But see it as just a passing phase in your longer journey to become a better person.

Stay up to date on technology & world politics. And always have at least one thing in your life that you’re rubbish at, but you’ve challenged yourself to improve on, bit by bit – it stops you feeling too comfortable and complacent.

Good luck!

Simon

Expanding the base by expanding the sides of the triangle

How can you grow your personal flexibility?  Imagine a triangle, with personal flexibility (PF) as the base and the sides being personal innovation (PI) and personal efficiency (PE).  The area of the triangle represents personal impact (on people, on things and on the World generally). Now think a little more deeply about each of the sides.

Personal innovation is about consciously breaking out of your comfort zone. Taking a new approach that has a step-change impact. Reinventing yourself and your destiny. Training can improve technique. But creative problem-solving under (tight) constraints requires improvisation. Putting together what at first seems some some unlikely combinations. Adapting nature’s approaches to human problems. I once visited a river valley in Peru with an old stone quarry on one side and a stone temple on the other side and a large, deep river inbetween. How did the people move the big stone blocks across the river? They simply stacked them up on the river bank and then went upstream and dug a channel to divert the course of the river, so the blocks were already on the far side! Genius.

Personal efficiency is about time management and the race to get a good result. It increases as you put personal learning to good use faster. And when you can engineer your reputation to preceed you (doors open before you reach them). Practice in advance (role-play your interview responses to a safe audience before the actual interview). Anticipate and use intuitive leaps where you can.

Work on PI and PE together and you will have demonstrated personal flexibility in action (expanded the base of the triangle).

Food for thought?

Simon

Planning and Acting

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Fighting is acting to achieve change. Debate is about examining options to improve planning.

Should we put more planning into fighting and more fighting into planning? And if so, what might that look like in practice?

For a political party fighting an election, campaign resources including the number of enthusiastic canvassers prepared to knock on strangers’ doors is limited. Voter areas to target are critical too. Planning is everything.

For an advocacy charity fighting to achieve significant impact, but operating in a world of inertia and indifference, planning what data to use, who to serve the insights to and how to incentivise them to act is key.

For an SME start-up, they need to fight to establish their brand and delight customers with the brand experience. Market research, cashflow and communicating the values embodied in the brand all need to operate in tandem. That takes careful planning.

What about putting more fighting into planning? Effective planning includes a battle of ideas and approaches. The winner isn’t the successful planner, but the successful plan. That plan, if the right people are in the planning room, ought to be a hybrid synthesised from many high quality contributions and a few ‘what if we…’ comments.

Food for thought?
Simon

Relationships-two to tango, two way street or two horse race?

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Two to tango
If the (romantic) relationship is destined to work, you have to first learn how to tango. Engage, tell a story, pivot, be able to move in synch, but not as a clone of your partner. Be flexible enough to invest your own twist on the dance. With flair not flare (distress signal).
Two way street
Successful (romantic) relationships involve giving way and thinking about the other driver, not just the obstacles on your side of the road. Or the opportunity to power ahead, just because you have the horsepower and driving skill to do so. Be flexible enough to make the street work as a whole. The city will thank you for it.
Two horse race
You might be a couple. A couple others see as a successful couple. But the journey should still be a two horse race. Not a race for one prize. But a race you both run together, on a course of your collective choosing. What strengthens you as a couple is when the horse out in front, takes the time to help the other horse catch a break. Be flexible on what winning actually means.
Simon

Redemption- is it the best human quality?

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Redemption involves two important things – feeling a need to redeem yourself (combining awareness, self reflection and urgency). And transforming from negative to positive (becoming something better).

Redemption is about thinking & doing not thinking & being. You can be your own judge of how much redemption is enough. You can look to others to judge. Or take a balanced approach.

Feeling a need to redeem yourself has at least one positive indicator. It typically follows some kind of situation that tested you – one that allowed you to gain experience and grow from it and further develop your character.

How is redemption related to personal flexibility? Redemption is about why, where and when. Personal flexibility is about how. If you can develop personal flexibility, you can increase your chances of redeeming yourself at a later date, when that need arises. That said, be flexible on how you do good. Don’t be flexible in blurring good and bad together. Don’t be flexible in how many ways you can be bad either.

Finally, is there such a thing as too much redemption? This might be relevant to some people working in the not for profit sector, working as volunteers, or being a parent. Where feeling the need to redeem yourself is driven by guilt, but then you discover that the more you redeem, the harder it seems to shed the guilt you feel, you have to then impose limits and boundaries. Or risk losing your sanity. This blogger’s counsel is to take advice from those you trust & respect. And listen to the voice of reason within yourself too.

Simon.

Parents and Trainers

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Trainers walk the walk. But only where they’re a good fit for the journey ahead.
I saw a chart on Pinterest today that was created by an experienced trainer. It linked together emotional intelligence(EI), coaching and leadership in a three way of mutual benefit. With being an effective trainer at the centre.
To digress, I guess I think of EI as a personal flexibility powerhouse. The more EI a person can develop, with maturity, feedback, reflection and perseverance, the more their personal flexibility to cope will flourish.
Back to the training model. Perhaps EI is like a brain, interacting with the ‘limbs’ of coaching and leadership. Or EI is like life-carrying water. With coaching and leadership as its channels. And training improvement the result?
Anyway, it got me thinking about parenting and how being a parent is different from being a trainer. Both take a load of patience and perseverance, no question. But parenting isn’t always about taking action to coach or lead your child. Sometimes it’s about just sitting back, enjoying the sunshine and simply loving them. Listening and sharing in their successes, their concerns. And sometimes their secrets.
Children probably won’t feel grounded in their own identity, unless and until the people they know love them, listen.
But wait. Don’t the best coaches & leaders act like parents in boosting the confidence of their trainees (believing in them) and loving them too (in a professional kind of way)?
Simon

Flexibility and Brands

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Having Flexibility on the outside and the (business) brand at the core makes sense for organisations wanting their clients to experience their own unique version of the brand. Caterers, publishers, movie makers & evangelical religious leaders take this approach. Their clients might say, ‘I don’t know what I want, but I’ll pay good money (and invest my soul) when I see it.’ The brand values are a molten core, radiating outwards into the client experience. Consistency where it exists, isn’t across the client base. But across the repeat experience of a given client. 

Then there are organisations who put Flexibility at the heart and wear their brand on the outside. You can’t think of their brand without valuing the innate flexibility within it. The likes of Google, Wikipedia, hospital groups, research-led universities and legal systems take this approach. Their customers might say, ‘what insights can my interaction with this brand reveal?’ There is consistency of experience across the user base. But if the product evolves, a given customer’s experience may vary over time.

So what does this tell us? Creating a sustainable brand is necessary. Figuring out whether to put Business Flexibility at its centre, or on its surface, is what makes your brand sufficient.

It probably works for personal flexibility too.

Simon

 

Technical solutions seeking existing problems

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At the time of writing (late Aug 2019) there are at least two pressing Brexit problems that will need a technology solution to ride in and save the day. The first is a practical technology solution to avoid the need for an ‘Irish backstop’. If achieved and quickly demonstrable, the UK won’t have to exit the EU on 31 October 2019, on a default, ‘no deal’ basis.

A second, related issue is about UK rubbish recycling, pre and post Brexit. At present, quoting the 6pm BBC news on 22nd Aug, loads of UK rubbish is exported to the EU (Sweden & Holland) for conversion into energy, under existing EU agreements.

Meanwhile app developers and inventors every day come up with (trivial) tech solutions, seeking a business or social problem to solve.

Wouldn’t it be grand if a tech company or two quickly presented a compelling solution to the backstop problem, saving Britain and its EU colleagues from a ‘no deal’ aftermath.

And if a science solution quickly emerged to provide UK onshore waste recycling on masse, (so no need to send to landfill, perhaps with intermediate stockpiling) as well?

Am I the only one keeping my fingers crossed?

Simon

 

 

 

Flexibility and Binary Choices

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Are binary choices becoming an endangered species? Flexibility on binary seems to go in one of two directions:

(1) There is the conversion from binary to a spectrum instead.

  • Oscillation along the spectrum between two limits is useful for bird flight, in juggling and in art. Or to make songs more interesting.
  • Computers to date have been binary, but quantum computing uses more of a spectrum approach.
  • Expert amateurs and novice professionals existing between the states of expert professional and rank amateur.
  • Logic used to be binary. Then we recognised fuzzy logic as useful too.
  • Governments generally moved away from binary sentencing in the justice system (death penalty or not, innocent or guilty) to concepts of restitution, share of blame, clemency and degree of penalty.
  • Human genders used to be recognised as male or female. Now we recognise a trans gender spectrum.
  • Political parties used to cluster around left wing or right wing. Now simultaneous local, national and trans-national identities feature just as prominently for voters.

(2) There is two merging into one united view, perhaps to realise synergies.

  • Humans used to combine our skills with nature’s raw materials (binary). It was obvious what was created by nature and what was created by people. Then we invented technology and eventually added synthetic biology to natural biology. We also augmented our own design approaches with computer-aided design & build. Then came computer-generated design & build, with its merging of physical and digital reality into augmented and virtual reality. And its blending of natural and synthetic biology.
  • People’s identity started when they were conceived. And their actions ceased when they died. Now people can pre-programme digital events (including posts) to happen after they think they will die. It then becomes possible to give the digital appearance of human life, after actual physical death.

What do you think?

Simon

Airports

I’m waiting in the Heathrow arrivals area, people watching over a coffee when I write this.

Airports, they epitomise binary- departures and arrivals, flying or waiting, the tide of travellers flooding corridors, or empty passageways & waiting areas. Business flexibility or personal flexibility. Jaded solo business class travellers, or excited family members about to go on holiday together.

Airports also represent a vibrant economy sustained by adventure and business meetings. Service providers have time to kill. A process schedule to meet and travellers to delight. Travellers have a fear of the unknown to kill. A flight schedule to meet. And duty free shopping to delight.

In an age of high definition travel films, virtual conference calls, digital gaming adventure and loads of digital ways to contact our nearest & dearest, we still need to fly somewhere to experience things in person. And it’s not from the novelty of flying in a plane for the first time.

With airports, the (hydro) carbon footprint from all those flights is huge. Yet the silicon footprint alternative just doesn’t cut it. Flying may take longer. But it seems that our love affair with what it enables, seems as popular as ever.

Simon