Fortunately and Unfortunately

A young student completed their schooling.

Fortunately, they had a career plan.

But unfortunately, it involved becoming an accountant.

Fortunately, they could add and subtract.

But unfortunately, so could Excel.

Fortunately, they knew how to use Excel.

But unfortunately, so did the auditors.

Foretunately they became an auditor.

But unfortunately, so did the robots…

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

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 fuss

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The best is ahead of us when we create uncomfortable choices. When we settle into a comfortable rut, the World starts looking for an epitaph for us.

Play your cards well.  But keep a spare pack up your sleeve.

Flexibility stands, we run.

Style flexibility – celebs who put skin in the game. Believe they have a duty to entertain. Grab media attention, based on the celebs’ style.

Substance flexibility – emergency services workers who put skin in the game. Believe they have a duty to serve. Grab people in danger, based on the emergency service workers’ substance.

Simon

Flexibility shining through

grayscale photo of baby feet with father and mother hands in heart signs
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Our choices create bridges to new aspects of our lives. And enable new branches on our family tree to develop too.

Our choices may be optimally timed, morally righteous and/or inherently wise. But their direction and sustainability are a product of the flexibility we have at the time.

Our family tree develops its height and shape due in a large part, to the flexibility our forefathers and mothers thought they had. There is perceived flexibility and reality flexibility. And not always great alignment between them. To elaborate, some of our forebears may have emigrated to new lands expecting a better life, simply because they perceived the flexibility they would have there to be almost infinite.

Where perceived flexibility greatly exceeds reality flexibility, we take risks. Where our perceived flexibility is significantly less than reality flexibility, we squander chances. Clearly we have to act too. But our effectiveness in acting is often due to flexibility we have, or think we have.

There are at least two things to improve, to enable our lives (and our family tree) to flourish. The first is to grow & maintain our flexibility per se (grow and keep our options open). The second is to keep trying to close the gap between our perceived and reality flexibility.

One tool to close that gap is flexibility itself. What’s a simple example? If we become more flexible on what we value (become less materialistic and more ambitious but for different things), our perceived flexibility can reduce to match reality flexibility. We then take jobs that involve fewer compromises and probably less stress. We live with less credit card debt. We seek less punishing avenues of stress relief – less gambling, binge drinking and sugar consumption. We sleep better and feel fitter, with fewer sporting injuries. In some cases, lowering the perceived flexibility can itself improve reality flexibility.

For some people the reverse is also true. By daring to dream and not settling for second best, they inspire those around them to lift their game, benefiting everyone. A low perceived flexibility can lead to self harm, anger issues, mental health problems, or turning to a life of crime. Beliefs become fatalistic and self fulfilling. Instead be realistic and recognise the value of real options ahead of time. Keep asking what are the things that open doors and keep on opening doors?

In summary, flexibility is like the sunlight and fertiliser for your life and your family tree both.

Simon

What flexibility can do

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Flax, nikau palms and cabbage tree fronds to the Maori people of New Zealand are what bamboo is to the peoples of South East Asia i.e. a wonder material.

The Maori used flax fronds to weave fishing lines, rope, make mats, clothing items, lash decorative housing panels together and even as a fibrous fish hook to catch eels with. Meanwhile In Europe, it was stripped into fibres and woven into linen to make fine clothes.

The flax plant is lean and tough, yet thrives in windy conditions because it has no rigid stem. Even cabbage trees, with a flax clump at the ends of long bendy trunks, break up the wind and with leaves of minimal thickness that present little side resistance.

Translated into our personal and professional lives, if the winds represent change and buffet us without warning, what can the humble flax plant teach us about being more flexible?

Working as a group of leaves disrupts the force of the wind. The leaves deflect some wind, shedding some along the length of the leaves – the direction in which the leaf is strongest. As families, or as work teams, we can do the same with some forces of change. The ‘lengths’ of our skills allow us to shed some of the ‘wind’. Or use it to our advantage, blasting away troublesome pests.

We can take design inspiration from the flax plant too – a strong base and lean leaves to give integrity. Shiny in all weathers. Projecting in all directions and able to shelter smaller creatures. A toughness and benefit that even survives the death of a leaf.

Finally, the flax leaves have so many uses because of their strength combined with their flexibility. If we choose to develop both things together, personal and professional versatility should result.

Simon