Posts Tagged ‘success’

The Bounce Back Factor

February 19th, 2019

Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.’ – Lyndon B. Johnson

We’ve all experienced times where we feel we’ve blown it. It might be choosing the wrong hire or job, a failure to act, a slip of the tongue, an emotional outburst, or just a dumb decision when you think you should have known better. The reality is we all make mistakes, but they don’t have to signal irreversible damage or the end of our career. It is how we react and what we choose to do after that sickening moment we realise our error that determines just how big it turns out to be.

Understanding how we view these mistakes and failures is critical to if and how high we bounce back.  When societies, businesses and individuals choose to view failure as experience rather than losing they are setting themselves on a course that is rich in new learning, networks and opportunities. They provide themselves and others with the confidence, clarity and energy to move forward and not remain stuck where they are.

Still the memory of our mistakes can sting for a while and recovering from them is neither inconsequential nor unimportant. If it was we would continue to make them with little regard for the consequences they held in both our immediate and long-term futures.

The reality is over the course of our lives and careers we will make mistakes. If we don’t, we are either playing it way too safe or not playing at all. Our bosses, peers and team members will also make mistakes. Again, how we choose to react will play a part in how big they become. As Alexander Pope wrote nearly three centuries ago ‘To err is human, to forgive divine’. Whether it be forgiving ourselves or those around us, we need to ensure that we are focused on the future and not in the messiness of the mistake.

Developing an inner strength and resiliency to move forward is critical. Without it we further compromise our position and opportunity for future success for those associated with our actions and ourselves. Martin Seligman, an American Psychologist who is well regarded for his work on positive psychology and resilience found that people who recover from setbacks and failure often view it as a temporary, localised and changeable event. Conversely those who struggle to move beyond their mistakes and failure learn to accept their scenarios as something they have no control over and consequently develop a ‘learned helplessness’.

Resiliency brings security. In a world that is characterised by constant change and uncertainty our ability to feel comfortable and move with the changing times, recover from setbacks and navigate the unknown is a critical skill for both personal and professional success. Our lives and careers today require us to be nimble, responsive and adaptable in both the good and not so good times. Anticipating risk, limiting fallout and the ability to ‘bounce back’ are essential skills for today’s leaders. Without it we not only risk our own career but also the performance and abilities of our teams by failing to see the opportunities that lie in front of us.

So how do we learn to think and act constructively rather than react in an emotionally destructive manner following a period of failure?

  1. Own It: To move beyond our mistakes we firstly need to own them by admitting to ourselves that it is our error. Denying responsibility holds us back, creates defensiveness and tends to protract the pain and period of time needed to resolve the issue. It also helps us avoid the blame trap.
  2. Acknowledge It: Whilst our first reaction is to want to hide away there will no doubt be some people who will need to know and who are impacted by your mistakes. Acknowledging our mistakes with honesty, integrity and transparency is also a powerful leadership example to set for those around us.
  3. Manage Your Emotions: Don’t sit on them or in them! Supressing them or dwelling on them prohibits any positive forward thinking or movement. Not only does it hold you back, it also drags you back.
  4. Mitigate The Risk: Invariably there are three immediate courses of action to choose from: Undo, Redo or Make Do. Understanding what your options are will help you to focus on what the next best course of action is to take.
  5. Understand Why: To learn from our mistakes we need to understand how and why they have occurred. It will help us to spot the early signs of reoccurrence, what actions we can take to avoid it and if possible what can be done to eliminate it.
  6. Repair It: Where possible we need to take the necessary actions to repair the damage that has arisen from our mistakes – with projects, with brands and with relationships.
  7. Forgive Yourself: More often than not we are our own harshest critics as our failings leave us feeling overwhelmingly disappointed, vulnerable and ashamed. We need to remind ourselves that ‘we did wrong, not we are wrong’. Continuing to berate ourselves keeps us reliving the moment and stops us from moving forward and learning from our mistakes.
  8. Fail Forward: Learning how to acknowledge, recover and learn from them allows us to grow as individuals and leaders. It helps us build and maintain the skills and relevance required for all that we do in life and in our careers.

Jazz great Miles Davis once said ‘When you hit the wrong note, it’s the next note that makes it good or bad’. When we as individuals and leaders know how to play those next notes and manage our responses to mistakes and failure, we can in turn support the mistakes and failures of those we lead. When we do this we are building and empowering a strong, bright and resilient future for both ourselves and the teams and businesses we lead.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

The Value of Trust

January 22nd, 2019

“Position and authority will give you followers, but trust will make you a leader.” – Aubrey McGowan

No matter where we turn, trust seems to be on the decline. Barely a day goes by where we don’t hear of a broken promise, contract or principle. Trust, which is widely regarded as the glue to any relationship, appears to be at crisis levels for many individuals and organisations today. In fact, recent statistics suggest that only 47% of employees trust senior management and only 32% believe CEO’s to be a credible source of information, according to the Centre for Organisational Excellence.

This lack of trust represents a leadership crisis of monumental proportions. When we don’t believe those around us it not only sets in motion a tidal wave of negative attitudes and emotions, it actually significantly impacts our ways of thinking and behaving. So much so that it can easily become the biggest blocker to us achieving our goals.

On a more positive note, it provides you as a leader with a brilliant opportunity to stand out by building solid foundations of trust with your teams, your clients and your networks in a landscape that clearly seems to be both lacking in it and craving more of it.

Stephen Covey’s analogy of trust as a tax or a dividend is a highly powerful one: When there is a lack of trust in a relationship or organization, it is like a hidden tax that is placed on every transaction, piece of communication, decision and strategy, which brings speed down and sends costs up. By contrast, individuals and companies that operate with high levels of trust reap the benefits of a dividend that enables them to succeed by multiplying performance, productivity and capability.

Lack of trust therefore has the capacity to literally double the cost of doing business and triple the delivery timeframes; where as high trust has the capacity to not only significantly save time, money and angst but also deepen relationships, build greater collaboration, career fulfillment and success for all involved.

For leaders, trust is two fold. You need to be able to engender it and you need to be able to give it. Without both, true success cannot be achieved. The most successful leaders recognise this and focus on creating it as a core objective. They make it a priority to build confidence in their:

  1. Capability – to deliver and build a solid track record of results; and
  2. Character – by acting with authenticity, integrity and clear intent;

Employees, customers and clients are simply asking the question – Can I trust you to deliver what you set out to promise and in a way that is honest and ethical?

Successful leaders understand that to gain trust you must also give it. They recognise that there is always a risk when giving trust and don’t deny the past or ignore the possibility of future results. They weigh up the risks and benefits before giving it and when they do, they ensure that they have established the right environment and frameworks to support and manage successful outcomes. They know when to step in and when to step away – and most importantly how to do it.

So how do the most successful leaders build trust?

  1. Establish purpose and commitment: from individuals and between individuals
  2. Communicate honestly and transparently: by talking straight and keeping it real!
  3. Ensure actions match words: remove ambiguity and take the guess work out of situations
  4. Deliver results: that offer lasting and meaningful value
  5. Listen and observe: Not just to those that shout the loudest but to all members of a team
  6. Demonstrate consistency: If you do what you say and say what you do, people will trust you
  7. Remove the ‘landmines’: the hidden agendas, the vagueness and doubt
  8. Clarify expectations, purpose and commitment: contributions, behaviours and attitudes
  9. Value accountability: both for themselves and the team’s that they lead
  10. Remain engaged: with individuals, objectives, processes and outcomes
  11. Acknowledge and give credit where credit is due: both individually and publicly
  12. They not only earn trust, they extend it to others.

Trust is not just a nice-to-have. It is a critical component of personal, team and organizational performance. It is a clear enabler of success and one that underpins your leadership skill set and true capability.

The logic is pretty simple: if people trust you and that trust is reciprocated, they will give you their all.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Navigating The Six Zones Of Repatriation

September 19th, 2018

For those who have navigated the return journey of living and working overseas, you will know that sometimes it can feel just plain tough. Whilst the experience of returning ‘home’ is often not all bad, most of us are caught by surprise at just how many ‘little’ things can actually unnerve us or catch us unaware. The idea of navigating any form of lag time outside of jetlag just didn’t seem to occur to us and yet it is something that catches both individuals and the organisations that they work for by surprise.

As the demand for leaders with a global mindset continues to grow, the prospect of living and working abroad continues to remain a valuable opportunity for businesses and individuals alike. However all too often the benefits fail to fully materialise for both parties due to the difficulties experienced in navigating the return journey ‘home’.

For organisations these difficulties often result in the departure of key talent, which represents an enormous loss in ROI with knowledge, experience and relationships walking out the door. For individuals the lack of opportunity to reconnect purposefully on both a professional and personal front often translates to disengagement and frustration.

Positioning repatriation at the front of the global talent mobility cycle is critical if we are to ensure employees and their families return confidently. The Brookfield 2016 Global Mobility Trends Survey recently found that only 10% of organisations surveyed reported that the role of the global mobility function was aligned with the wider talent agenda and actively engaged in workforce planning and people effectiveness.

There is no doubt that this disconnection is hurting both businesses and individuals. As organisations recognise and actively work to build a pipeline of future leaders with global experience, how they support and integrate the personal and professional needs of an individual during the return phase will ultimately determine how strong their pipeline remains.

Successful expats grow not only their core business knowledge and skillset whilst away but also their personal perspectives. More often than not they return with different attitudes and views looking at the world through a different lens. Ultimately they return different people. To assume that they can and will simply ‘slot back in’ is dangerous and often costly.

Just as the physical journey home invariably requires individuals to cross often multiple time zones, so too does the repatriation journey. To reduce the lag time associated with these zones, organisations need to ensure that their repatriation planning pays attention to each area that individuals find themselves having to navigate.

The six zones of repatriation:

Physical: Regarded as the base line of support, most organisations are well equipped to manage this ‘zone’ effectively through partnerships with outsourced mobility partners and interim accommodation providers. Ensuring that this component is not just part of the initial assignment phase but also the homeward bound journey though is essential.

Financial: Given that most people don’t move in tandem with the financial or tax year, offering tailored financial guidance is critical to helping individuals and their families’ kick start their lives back ‘home’. Foreign bank accounts; managing off-shore investments; navigating compliance formalities and simply shifting finances home all require timely advice.

Business: With significant business changes – be it in structure or people – often occurring whilst the expat has been off shore, a ‘re-boarding’ process is strongly advised. These programs need to reflect any key market, political or relationship changes that may impact the way in which the employee may carry out their role.

Career: For repatriates the number one frustration with their return is the lack of meaningful opportunity to leverage recently acquired knowledge, skills and experience. Whilst robust career planning should occur prior to the assignment commencing so that realistic expectations are established, it is vital that career planning is made an integral part of the returning phase.

Social: It is not uncommon for individuals to experience and enjoy the connection of a tight knit expat community whilst off shore. For many, returning ‘home’ is an intensely isolating experience that can significantly impact the level of fulfillment and engagement in the workplace. Welcome home events, internal mentor programs and repatriate networks that include spouses and children are proven strategies to help support social reintegration.

Emotional: Whilst stress and anxiety are a well-known side effect of any move, it is often most underestimated on the journey ‘home’. When the so-called familiar no longer feels that way the emotional impact can be overwhelming. Understanding some of the key triggers and the subsequent support offerings should be a critical part of any employee well being program.

Have you returned home after living abroad, or are planning to in the near future? I invite you to comment and share your experiences below.

Opening The Doors Of Possibility

August 1st, 2018

“If you want to go to places you’ve never been before, you have to think in ways you’ve never thought before” – Ken Blanchard

In his book The Art Of Possibility, Benjamin Zander recounts the story of two travelling shoe salesmen who ventured to Africa from Manchester in the early 1900s to discover whether or not they could sell shoes. Both independently sent a telegram back to England to report on their observations and findings:
First Salesman: “Situation Horrible. They don’t wear shoes!”
Second Salesman: “Glorious Opportunity. They don’t have any shoes yet!”

Both were in exactly the same circumstance and had witnessed the same conditions, yet they seemed to be operating from parallel universes. One salesman saw nothing but roadblocks and hurdles, the other nothing but opportunity. Or as Zander suggests, one views possibility as luck whilst the other views it as the norm.

No doubt we’ve all been in situations where we have been encouraged by someone who has enthusiastically seen the opportunity to do something differently rather than presenting explanations of why it wont work. Or maybe we’ve recounted what we felt was a hopeless situation for ourselves to a friend only to have them look through a different lens and see a prime opportunity to change directions and explore a new path.

The reality is people who embrace the world of possibility are capable of accomplishing things that previously seemed impossible simply because they believed in solutions. It doesn’t mean that they don’t encounter hurdles, issues or even failure whilst exploring what could be. It also doesn’t guarantee a pain free or easy ride. Invariably though people who are open to the world of possibility avoid the pits of complacency and mediocrity and instead find themselves in situations that embrace potential and purpose.

Leaders who are focused on a world rich in possibility send a very clear message to their businesses and teams that regardless of their current situation there is hope for something more in the future. They see the potential for greater success and fulfillment and are committed to creating meaningful change and or outcomes for their people, their clients and their customers. They use a different language and even walk and talk in a different way.

Leadership expert John Maxwell advocates seven reasons why we should all seek to adopt a possibility mindset. Not only are each of these beneficial for leading and growing high performing teams, they also significantly impact what we believe we are capable of with our careers. I would encourage you to think about how you they apply to your role today and how it can open the door to new possibilities in the future:

1. Possibility thinking increases your possibilities: When you succeed at achieving something you didn’t think you or your team were previously capable of, new opportunities unfold. You feel more confident undertaking them and you actively go looking for them.

2. Possibility thinking draws opportunities and people to you: Believing that something can be better than what it is and can deliver greater impact and/or results is attractive. People want to work and collaborate with others who are prepared to take the risk to achieve new levels of success.

3. Possibility thinking increases others’ possibilities: It is quite literally, contagious. You can’t help but influence and impact those around you. Confidence, visionary thinking and positivity are easily recognisable and empowering to others.

4. Possibility thinking allows you to dream big dreams: Regardless of what you do, what position you hold, industry or city you work in, the belief that you could do something different allows you to not only see it as an option but believe you are capable of it.

5. Possibility thinking makes it possible to rise above the average: To rise above the average and move out of the rut of status quo, we need to embrace the possibility of what could be. Believing that things can be greater increases our drive, focus and commitment to achieving new levels of success.

6. Possibility thinking gives you energy: The correlation between positive thinking and energy is widely documented. Not only is it known to provide greater energy, it also helps you channel your energies into things that are more productive.

7. Possibility thinking keeps you from giving up: Possibility thinkers believe they can and will succeed. Their forward thinking focus and belief that they can achieve despite circumstances provides the fuel required to last the distance.

As leaders our challenge is to help our teams see and believe what is possible. Without it we will never realize our potential and we are likely to miss the ‘golden moments’ of thinking creatively, truly connecting and enjoying the feeling of breaking down the barriers of what we had previously believed to be so.

We and our teams need to understand that it isn’t the circumstances around us that are crucial but rather what we tell ourselves, believe and say out loud about them is. As leaders we have a choice to open the door or slam it shut. What will yours be?

Success To Significance

July 18th, 2018

“No one stumbles upon significance. We have to be intentional about making our lives matter” – John C. Maxwell

What we do matters. For most of us building a purposeful and successful career is something that we all aspire to do. After all no one really aspires to be unsuccessful or to have a meaningless career. The reality is we invest way too much time and blood, sweat and tears for it to not provide a degree of reward, enjoyment and fulfilment. But are we missing out on true reward by focusing all of our efforts on being successful rather than creating significance?

As John Maxwell notes, no one stumbles upon significance. It requires intentional effort, time and planning. It takes time to explore and answer the ‘big’ questions that help us define what significance means for each of us. Questions such as: How do I create greater purpose and impact? What mark do I want to leave and where – in what communities? How do I build and maintain relevance and purpose in my career for the next 5, 10 or 15 years? Does my current role / company provide me with the right future opportunities to help me on this path? These big questions are hard questions to answer and as a result are often relegated to the too hard basket or for ‘later in the year’. After all nothing is actually broken, so for many there is no urgency to change or we tell ourselves that ‘we should just be grateful for our lot’. The danger is ‘later in the year’ can all too easily become next year or the year after.

In working with many senior executives, it is not uncommon to hear of highly successful career stories that have offered wonderful foundations – stability, security, challenge and reward. However at some point these pillars no longer seem to be the ultimate driver and questions start to be asked about creating greater value. Often our motivations change with career experience and what was once really important has slipped down the focus and priority ladder. This is not to say that success is not important – it is and it is a vital component of creating significance. Too often though when these questions arise there is a temptation to think I just need a new job, try a new company or perhaps try a new career. Fundamentally though what you need to ask yourself is ‘Do I want to switch jobs or companies; or do I want to switch to a life that matters through what I do?’

Author of Intentional Living, John Maxwell talks about the trap that many of us fall into when we focus on success: ‘If I do enough and have enough I will be fulfilled’. The challenge with this mindset is when we aren’t fulfilled we tend to question our capabilities, our value and ultimately ourselves. As Maxwell notes, success is great but significance is lasting. The added bonus is it also generates higher levels of energy, purpose and opportunity.

Creating lives and careers of significance require us to fundamentally switch our focus from what can do for ourselves to what can we do for others. This does not mean that we live a life denying what we want for the sake of pleasing others. Rather it is about drawing upon our innate knowledge, skills, strengths and motivations to contribute to the success of others.

Creating significant lives and careers takes time. It is a journey and much like climbing a ladder requires us step up the rungs to reach the top. The problem is too many of us stop before we reach the top rung. Maxwell talks about moving through the ladder of significance: survival (focus being on stability) to success (focus on ourselves) to significance (focus on others).
So how do we build career significance? I would encourage you to consider the following 5 tips:

1. Know your strengths, and stay with them: It is much easier to create a career of significance when we know what our strengths are. We are in a position to give freely and generously and operate with greater intuitiveness, insight and impact.

2. Identify demand: Know where your strengths are valued and required and place yourself in a position to generate demand for them.

3. Establish your plan: Be intentional about what you do, where you do it and with you do it.

4. Define your position: The ability to articulate your plans, intentions and direction not only provides you clarity but also allows your networks to actively and confidently support your path.

5. Connect: Let people know what your intentions are and most importantly why. When others can see the genuine motivation you have they are more inclined to support and contribute to your path.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts,

The Power Of Momentum

November 13th, 2017

‘It is significantly easier to cross a gap when you have direction and momentum’

– Seth Godin

Momentum is a funny thing. When you’ve got it you feel as though anything is possible and you can confidently take on new challenges. Other times it can seem elusive and a struggle to develop. A lack of it can leave you feeling uninspired, sluggish and if we are not careful, ‘stuck’. It’s often hard to describe and yet it is nearly always our secret magic weapon to achieving success.

Momentum can’t be faked… you’ve either got it or you haven’t. Most of us have experienced that feeling of procrastination, avoidance or just dread at starting something some new. How many of us though have embarked upon a new project or business strategy only to find that once we actually started, it really wasn’t that hard or tedious. Why? Because it was actually the thought of having to start that was the hard bit. Once we got the proverbial ball rolling, the ideas came; we found our flow and discovered that it was significantly easier and often more rewarding than anticipated.

Understanding that it is far easier to create momentum when things are already in motion is critical if we are to successfully manage both our careers and the teams and businesses we lead. It is also a great motivator for keeping the momentum alive. Creating momentum will not only help us overcome the challenges that invariably come up but it will help us remain focused, clear minded and forward thinking rather than stagnating. It doesn’t mean that we will always have a straight and easy path to navigate but rather our ability to nimbly move, adjust and grow along the path will be greatly enhanced.

It only takes a loss of momentum for us to realize just how critical it is. Without it we are far more likely to find ourselves distracted and doubting our ability to actually achieve what we set out to do. As Jocelyn Glei so aptly points out in her article The Art Of Momentum: Why your Ideas Need Speed: “Our inner critic awakens and we start second guessing ourselves. Other people’s demands creep in, vying for our attention and focus. We start to generate shiny, new ideas that seem even more worthy of execution, tempting us to move onto the next big thing without ever finishing”.

And herein lies the danger – we can’t actually create momentum if we aren’t ever really finishing anything. It is in the success of delivery, implementation and review that we find new ways to grow and improve and innovate on what we do.

In understanding how momentum drives this cycle of success we need to understand the benefits it delivers:

  1. Momentum creates success by enhancing performance
  1. Momentum dilutes obstacles and issues
  1. Momentum creates energy
  1. Momentum opens us up to possibility and makes change easier


To create career and leadership momentum we need to actively engage and invest in ourselves. We need to reflect, assess, re-assess and plan with consistency. Failing to do so can be costly as we can all too easily find ourselves ‘stuck’ in roles or organisations that no longer provide us with the challenge or fulfillment we once craved. It is then that the thought of having to change can seem overwhelming and all too difficult.

So what can we do to ensure we ‘keep the ball rolling’ and create momentum? I would encourage you to consider the following seven areas:

Take Action: Do something. Define what you want or need to do; make decisions (indecision is dangerous and paralysing); focus on creating solutions rather than the problem itself. Sometimes it is in making the wrong decisions help us to understand what will work and determine the right course of action.

Build Consistency: Consistency builds belief, ensures relevance and creates accountability and stability. It is essential that we build consistency in our actions that drive performance, engagement and learning – both internally and externally.

Focus on Your Strengths: When we focus on and leverage our strengths we operate with a higher degree of productivity and efficiency. We make decisions faster, reach out and ask for help earlier and attract opportunities that capatilise on our talents and skillsets.

Embrace Learning: Learning doesn’t finish when you graduate or when you pass the probation period of a new job. It is an ongoing, life-long process that needs to be planned for, invested in and created. By being proactive in educating yourself, you are much more strongly positioned to act and react with greater speed, clarity and confidence.

Identify The Building Blocks: All too often we focus on the final destination as our first and only measure of success. As a result when we fail to recognise and celebrate our achievements incrementally we find ourselves discouraged and tempted to quit the whole game. It’s important to set realistic yet challenging milestones that help us build both momentum and confidence.

Collaborate: The quickest way to slow or kill momentum is to insist on going it alone. Learning how to leverage the knowledge, talents and time of others is critical to producing a productive and efficient outcome.

Connect: Invest in the right relationships – both internally and externally – and dedicate time and energy to them. Identify your key influencers and thought leaders, and identify a meaningful pathway of how to approach and engage with them.

Building career and leadership momentum takes time. It is not a tap that you can just turn on when you decide that you need to make a change or commence a new project. It is however something that you can choose to invest in building today – is now the time to get the ball rolling?

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.


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