The China US Paradox

Posted by Mike Kaaks

08 July 2019

We favour the one who goes to war and fear the one who supports economic development.

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Australia's Flag, Anthem, and Constitution

Posted by Mike Kaaks

08 July 2019

Call me a Republican, call me whatever you like, but it;s time these things were changed to recognise our first peoples.

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In Spite of or Because of Government

Posted by Mike Kaaks

08 July 2019

I’m sure there are moments along the way where government acts had impact. Look at the floating of the currency in Australia. But events with a direct cause and effect like this are not so easy to find. Governments walk too close to the centre all the time, fearful that bold action in the long term interest of the country will see them loose power.

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I did share my thoughts once......

Posted by

06 March 2019

Open letter to messrs Hawke, Whitlam and Fraser.........

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Becoming an Optimistic Possibilist

Posted by Mike Kaaks

10 February 2019

what if we become Possibilists for Australia. For me that means we stop being driven by what might go wrong and be become driven by what is possible, by what is better.

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Just Be Ready for Change

Posted by Mike Kaaks

24 January 2016

Everything is iterative, although sometimes the connections are tenuous...

nothing is linear, we leap across chasms, we go sideways backwards and forwards

we think of our future in little iterative steps; we live life in big strides of change

Our plans for the future should just be open to the possibilities which we will encounter.

I wrote this in December 2011 and stored it in a draft email that is still sitting in my email where I chanced upon it just now. It’s another case of Synchronicity because just yesterday I watched a TED talk in which Kathryn Schulz, when talking about how we approach our future used the line “and something else happened instead”. I was instantly envious of what what she had created as her small phrase encapsulates perfectly this issue that has exercised my mind, and my coaching, for so long. In fact in August 2

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Mining for your Purpose

Posted by Mike Kaaks

09 January 2016

I was enjoying overlooking the beach at Scarborough having just watched (again!) the second of Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talks - the one about Purpose. He describes Purpose in terms of human resources and compares them to natural resources in so far as both of them being buried deep. You have to go looking for them he says; they are not lying around on the surface. And finally, he tells us that we have to create the circumstances where they show themselves. In the last point his message is similar to those of Joseph Jaworski, Scharmer, Tolle, and others about how we engage with the universe and how it engages with us.

I pondered this whilst taking in the magnificent ocean and azure sky and realised I had experienced exactly that path on the journey to understanding my Purpose. In 2003 I was selected to attend a corporate program learning how to coach others

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Speaking Out

Posted by Mike Kaaks

09 January 2016

When I started blogging my purpose was to communicate with potential clients, having the website as a credential, something to back up my Linkedin profile. As a result I filtered what I talked about, especially my views about the wealth gap and the impact of unbridled capitalism. For some time this compromise has been bugging me and I now see that it is the reason for the blogging process coming to a halt last year. In addition to writing about how I see work and life at the micro level as I’ve been doing, I like to talk about things at the macro level.

The best example I can think of is my view that capitalism in it’s current form has been a disaster for the world. When I say that many people think I’m saying that I’m for socialism or communism. Far from it. Those regimes have equal

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Ambiguity

Posted by Mike Kaaks

19 April 2014

Know Thyself. It is at the top of the list of my values. It’s also a key to dealing with ambiguity. Knowing all of your diversity. Knowing your beliefs, values, mission provides insight into the way you will act when faced with uncertainties. I like to look at the definitions of both Ambiguity and Ambiguous when discussing this topic as it helps frame thinking:

Ambiguous - open to more than one interpretation; not having one obvious meaning

Ambiguity - The quality of being open to more than one interpretation; inexactness

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Who am I to

Posted by Mike Kaaks

19 April 2014

My chest feels like it might burst. When I first sat down to write about this feeling and what it is about I thought I was going to say that my head was about to burst. But the feeling is clearly in my chest somewhere in a band about the midpointof my ribs and certainly not lower down in my gut. Being an introspective soul has lead me to write about this and try to uncover the root cause of the pain.

For some years now I have been working to pull together the learning of all that I have experienced into a form that can be shared with the world. The messages centre on our connectedness. On many occasions I've felt like I've got all that I need. I'm ready to go. And then I encounter something more - either from re-reading something or from new experience. My program gets away from me. What I want to say or how I want

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A Paradox in Me

Posted by Mike Kaaks

19 April 2014

I enjoy finding paradoxes amongst the subjects I love. When more of something you value creates outcomes which aren’t desirable. Like the Abilene Paradox where a family group held back from saying what they wanted to do in the interest, or so they thought, of enabling others to do what they wanted. In this case they ended up putting each other through hell because they didn’t want to rock the boat, didn’t want to go against what they thought was a common desire.

I’ve found something of a paradox in myself. Anyone who has read these blogs will know that I value qualities of being far far higher than qualities of doing, and that my purpose revolves around

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The Wisdom Conversations

Posted by Mike Kaaks

15 January 2014

This quote by Francis Bacon (1561 - 1626) leapt out at me recently:-

Young men are fitter to invent than to judge, fitter for execution than for counsel, and fitter for new projects than for settled business

My observations
It could be a definition for Gen Y. What really attracted me though is that it confirms that there are some things in life which don't change. In this case it's that the getting of wisdom comes with age and experience. It did then in Bacon's time, and it does now. It also reminds us (sadly) that the journey of the physical self goes the other way!!

When we look at the lives of our parents and grandparents it's hard not to see things as being so different for us in our time. On deeper reflection one sees that the physical and material world is where most of the change exists. Spiritually we are much the same as they were. We are taller than in bacon's time and we live longer

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Beliefs versus Facts

Posted by Mike Kaaks

13 January 2014

I'm reading Thomas Metzinger's The Ego Tunnel. I should say struggling with rather than reading as the early going is hard. This is for at least three reason: the way he approaches an already difficult topic; because it is a translation from his mother tongue and nuance can be lost this way; and because of the attitude he displays in his writing. Take this line for example;

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Purpose, Destiny, and your Gift

Posted by Mike Kaaks

12 January 2014

In looking back at some notes about destiny recently I was struck by the connection between destiny and purpose. Around the same time I chanced upon a TV program (yes blokes do too much channel hopping, but it often has big payoffs) in which pianist James Rhodes described the emotional high he experienced when playing, in particular when playing Beethoven. The depth of feeling he expressed was moving. So much so that I called Sally to join me. We then sat glued for 25 minutes including 20 minutes of Rhodes playing Beethoven’s Piano Sonata 30 right through. The emotion was palpable. In addition to this being a window on Purpose, I realised I was seeing a man display his unique gift.

For many years now I have believed we all have something in us which for that quality puts us at the top of the world, in the best of the best. For some of us it is coupled with a ready ability to bring it to life, in others it lies dormant.

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Globalisation and connectedness

Posted by Mike Kaaks

25 October 2013

Globalisation. At the high end it is affecting us on so many levels. Much of it is challenging insofar as in bringing us all closer together it brings a risk that we lose some of our differences, some of the diversity which makes existence what it is. At a personal level it has been great.

Let me start be defining the aspect of globalisation I'm talking about when I refer to it's impact upon me. I believe in universal connectedness. We are all connected. One aspect of globalisation is the tools to live out some of this connectedness directly, physically. Colleagues I worked with in my corporate life are now all over the globe. Extended family members likewise.When I was in my twenties, communicating was in small confines. In the daily workplace or in family gatherings. Now our contact points are without limit to time or place. It's wonderful.

Recently, more than once or twice, I've had the wonderful experience of someone close to me yet on

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Some homespun philosophy

Posted by Mike Kaaks

23 October 2013

It occurred to me today at the kitchen table that homespun philosophies are an element of myth. Myth can be defined as a traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining some natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events. In simple language, it is a teacher, it brings the lessons of life to us through narrative. Homespun philosophy is much the same but on a far less grand scale. So far less in fact that the word homespun is often used in a pejorative sense. I'm not sure why. Perhaps because these simple truths aren't supported by research papers and peer review, perhaps because the elder who espoused them is seen as a bit past it; I'm not sure. What I know is that beliefs that I see as qualifying for the homespun tag are worthy of a place in our lives because they are so informative about what others have learned about living a life.

Take Tom Peters' words in the prologue to John Bogl

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John Bogle The Measure of a Man

Posted by Mike Kaaks

18 September 2013

I'm drawing on John C Bogle again - I've thought about writing one big piece capturing all the wisdoms of his book "Enough", and I might still do that. For now though there is a wonderful piece which adds to understanding the difference between being and doing, an issue which is central to a number of my beliefs about life and work.

In a chapter titled Too Much Focus on Things, Not Enough Focus on Commitment he reflects on the John Travolta film A Civil Action in which Travolta's character, a lawyer, commits everything he has in support of his clients and their children. The film closes with this lawyer in personal bankruptcy court. He lists his meagre possessions, to which the judge says "where are the things by which one measure

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Creativity and Original Thought

Posted by Mike Kaaks

18 September 2013

It's always uplifting when we find that we are not alone. If you have been a reader of the posts in this blog you'll know that the question of original thought is one that often occupies my mind. In re-reading John C Bogle's wonderful book "Enough" just now I encountered the following passage "When I first expressed skepticism about our information age more than a decade ago, I naively believed that it was an original thought. But there is nothing new under the sun, and I was delighted to learn recently that T.S.Eliot had expressed the same ideas - much more poetically of course - in The Rock (1934)…" Apart from bringing it's wisdom into my life, this message is helpful when we think about creativity.

So often over the years I have heard friends and colleagues say "I'm not a creative person". Who is, if we accept that it has all been done before our go around? We burden ourselves with expectation of original

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Context (again)

Posted by Mike Kaaks

23 August 2013

I keep having experiences that bring me back to this point.
I'm sure you all will have been reading about the turmoil in Egypt. What started as a liberating political event has sadly become a most violent conflict. In terms of context I want to go back to the first weeks of this change, and the issue of the role of the military. Over 30 million, yes million, people came out to protest the president, his policies, and his politics. The army stepped in, suspended the constitution, and an interim non-military government was installed. In much of the global press this was headlined as a military coup. In the context of military takeover in South America this label would be appropriate. In the context of Egypt and it's history since Gamal Abdel Nasser and the overthrow of the monarchy in 1952, it is the wrong label. Since that time the military in Egypt has had an active role in the political, social, and economic framework of the country.

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The future is not a straight line

Posted by Mike Kaaks

23 August 2013

The future is not a straight line
Why are we only prepared to accept a view of the future which is conservative? I listen to public debate about the end of the mining boom. It will never happen again they say. Why not? As a caller pointed out on talk back radio recently the Eppalock dam was

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Life is one big Mind Map

Posted by Mike Kaaks

23 August 2013

Life is one big mind map. That line appeared in my mind as I was sitting in front of the computer wondering if there is a unity in the blogs I've posted. Of course, there is - they are all written by the same person and they have a universal theme about people being together. In those nano seconds the mind takes at these times, I got a picture of all that I've read coming together, then all that I've done, then all that I am, and then came the opening line above - its all one great big mind map. Imagine being able to draw it. How big would the canvas be? What would be the themes of the main branches? How might one read something so big? How could it be shared? On one side things that I've done, things that have happened to me, on the other side things I believe, things that make me who I am. Is it just a thought that I should move on from, or is it telling me something?
Another way to look at it is that this is a message

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Collaborating - First Know Thyself

Posted by Mike Kaaks

23 June 2013

Knowing yourself is not just accumulating the results of tests and feedback. It requires honesty. Deep honesty. Sometimes with that comes the pain of acknowledging, and the pain of letting go, but these are like portals to a new view of life and the world. The pain is short-lived and the rewards of living in the light of that new view are so many, so varied, and so rich. I find this easy to talk about because Knowing Myself is my highest value. As a result I have to be a little careful when I extoll its virtues, so be aware, this is the toned down version of things.
The subject is in my mind now because I'm reflecting on the questions I will use with a group of young leaders to get them to be really open with each other. The benefits I'm selling are clear. If they are to get the absolute best out of collaborating with each other it will come from their diversity and a preparedness to challenge and be challenged without becoming defensive; by engaging without any sense

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Context is Critical

Posted by Mike Kaaks

20 June 2013

I was recently reflecting on a couple of books I'd just read, both of which were in one way or another about making decisions. Each made lots of references to tests that researchers had devised to unlock some insight into the way we humans work in given situations. As my thoughts wandered further I came to the issue of context as I realised that these tests illuminate behaviour in a very specific circumstance. Researchers have to narrow it down, otherwise they cannot be conclusive in their findings. The understanding they provide to us is invaluable, letting us understand more and more of the human condition. However, when we want to apply some of that insight, we have to deal with the challenge which was eliminated in the laboratory, namely that when these things happen in life they happen in a multifaceted context.

Life isn't always black and white, it isn't simply a matter of either/or. It's about the context in which things happen, which means that the cho

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At the Crossroads

Posted by Mike Kaaks

28 May 2013

I love the sense that flows from the expression "at the crossroads" For me those words are forever anchored in the Robert Johnson blues Crossroads.That music has often been matched with an image of the intersection of two straight dirt roads in the open and remote spaces of a rural setting. It's where I feel I am just now.

I know I'm on a journey which started about 13 years ago. It started with a set of feedback which opened my eyes to the person who I am. Around that time someone lead me to Lynne Mctaggart's "The Field". Between then and now there have been a string of books which have layered onto each other as they informed my thinking about what is important, how life works, and what that means for life in business. This has become a challenge to create message through which I can accelerate the journey of others along this same path. For much of the time I have seen that as a need to create a unique theory, something never seen before.

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I'm an anthropologist

Posted by Mike Kaaks

21 May 2013

Human beings, not human doings.What does this mean to you? What do you think when you hear those words (and I don’t want you to say that there’s a double entendre in there!). For me its clear. It’s about how we live, not what we do or have done. I’m attracted to our being. I believe that if we understand that of ourselves, understand that of our workplaces, then we hold the key to a fulfilling and rewarding life. In my working life which has ticked past 45 years now, I have been engaged in a system which focuses on human doings. Think about the last time you applied for a job, or wrote a brief to the recruitment agency. What were the questions being asked? What did you do in your education? What did you do in your career? What would you like to do? What did you do for others? What did you do? Doing. Doing. Doing. And the recruitment process - whichever side you were on - line up what you have done beside

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Faffing

Posted by Mike Kaaks

28 March 2013

I had a great moment in a coaching session this morning when R, the lady with whom I was working, described her choices about what to do as being between getting a task done herself, or faffing around. Using that word really lit up our conversation. It also highlighted how a lot of us see the being tasks when compared to the doing; a key theme of mine as many of you will know. I'm sure you have your moments when the outcomes of just doing it yourself seem to dramatically outweigh those of sitting down and chatting with a colleague about how they might contribute to the task, or how they might take responsibility for all of it with a little bit of tuition or guidance as required. But those conversations take too long. Who has time to faff around?

You have to make time for this. I accept that it is a J curve issue. You often have to invest time before seeing a return in terms of completed work, or be

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Get but out of your usage

Posted by Mike Kaaks

15 March 2013

Get the word "but" out of your life When I first started writing this blog in my head I thought the little epiphany I'd had was unique. But after a quick web search I found that whilst it might have been the first time I thought about the effect of the word "but" this way, the thought was far from original. It's been written about by many others. But as we each bring our own perspective, here's my take on it, my epiphany.The message in the words which come after "but" don't get to deliver their full intent. As I thought more about it I realised that it is not the only failing in using "but" as the word also wipes out the value of what was said up to the point of it's inclusion.

At the beginning of this year I wrote to a friend to ask her to be custodian of a commitment that I not use the word but for the entire year. I did this because of this epiphany, this realisation that whenever

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The Status Quo

Posted by Mike Kaaks

06 March 2013

The Status Quo is like mud around your ankles; it creates a barrier against change.

In the dictionary it is defined as the existing state of affairs; they have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Breaking the status quo would mean changing the existing state, to get ahead, to change for the better, or simply to do something else. Beyond these dictionary definitions I've found it has another almost sinister definition. It lives in the culture of organisations. It emerges when change is afoot, creating a barrier to your change agenda. It speaks in lines like

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Cause and Effect

Posted by Mike Kaaks

25 February 2013

As is so often the case, something I just read has inspired me to write on this topic. I've just enjoyed for the second time (although it slowed down at the end) Tim Parks' book

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Know Thyself

Posted by Mike Kaaks

28 January 2013

γνῶθι σεαυτόν is Greek for Know Thyself, a cornerstone of many of my coaching engagements, and my own highest ranked value. I am also attracted to the latin te nosce ipsum - there is something about a latin phrase which elevates its subject. Perhaps that is because so many motto's are written in latin, perhaps it is because so many latin phrases carry meaning well beyond the limited number of words they contain.
Coming down from this lofty height, the topic also reminds me of Jim Trott (the old guy in Vicar of Dibley). In one episode the writers make a beautiful play on his habit of responding to questions with his stuttering

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Taking the right amount of time

Posted by Mike Kaaks

19 January 2013

Don't be too bullish when mapping out your change plan. I did some work recently which opened my eyes to a different way of coming out of a vision / changed future exercise. The insight is that it's ok if you don't start on the new stuff straight away. In this case the team agreed to allow six months to clear the decks so there was free air for the new initiatives. They gave themselves six months to tidy up the things which lead to having the workshop in the first place, to deal with them properly rather than allow them to become firefights and crises which would impede the new development.
It's another slant on the vexed change management question of what to stop doing in order to make way for the new. You've been there - you want to do things differently but there are many problems to be dealt with, fires to be put out. So in the case in question the team built a very motivating view of how they wanted to be and when looking at the

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A 100 day plan for the New Year

Posted by Mike Kaaks

18 January 2013

Start the new year running!
We talk about adding energy and success through a 100 day plan when we embark on a new role or take a new step in our career. It's the foundation for many stories in which the key protagonist made a real difference for themselves, those around them, and their organisation.

What if…….

What if you look at the coming year as a new job and build a next 100 days plan so you and your team really make a difference. Exemplary leaders envision the future, gaze across the horizon of time and imagine greater opportunities to come. They are able to develop a unique image of the future. This ability more that any other leadership trait differentiates leaders from individual contributors. Your vision is the heart of your plan. Just imagine how energised and motivated your team, indeed all your stakeholders, will feel when they hear you pass

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Hope

Posted by Mike Kaaks

29 November 2012

One this year's AFL finals matches was very one-sided. I watched happily because my team was in front but of course that was not the case for many other, not the least the team being beaten. As the third quarter was coming to a close one of the commentators asked special comments colleague Leigh Matthews - a giant of the game both as a player and a coach - what is there for the losing coach to say to his players in the three-quarter time break.
He can give them hope said Matthews.
Interestingly (and I'm assuming there was no talking point memo driving the behaviour) all I heard from commentators through the remainder of the finals was that coaches had to give their players hope. The point had really resonated. It connected with me too.
Those who know me are aware that I love to see thinks in terms of a continuum. It's a great way to consider the ambiguities that we face in

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What is Original Thought?

Posted by Mike Kaaks

10 October 2012

I love reading, sometimes for pleasure (I'm a crime story fan) and sometimes, and more often the case, for learning. On the learning side I see anthropology as the umbrella over my reading choices. Anthropology; it's a high sounding word which simply means the study of mankind. The common theme of my reading is how we work, how we live. This reading fuels my desire for understanding of self, and for insight into how things happen when WE are doing things together. At some point I may write my own book on the subject.

The first time I tried to write such a book, I encountered a barrier in the issue of originality. I had a strong feeling that for the book to be authentic, it had to unearth a previously unseen, unknown insight into life. A friend with whom I shared my problem helped me to see that what was interesting to her and those who know me is the unique way I see my world, helped me see that this is where the

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Purpose and Values

Posted by Mike Kaaks

26 August 2012

I have labeled myself a purpose and values coach. These words describe the primary levers I use when working with my clients. I believe in the great strength which comes from knowing thyself, and that the core of this knowledge lies in understanding one’s purpose and values. With this knowledge in hand you are equipped to find your path to fulfillment and feel energized in it’s pursuit.

The best tool I have found to find one’s purpose is Tim Kelley’s book “True Purpose”. Kelley believes that the question “what is your purpose?” is not rhetorical or philosophical, but that it has a definitive answer for each of us; an answer that tells us why we are here. As evidenced by the grail myth, this is a question that men in particular wrestle with as they journey through life. Purpose is not about us being here to provide shelter and security to our family or achieve status

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Removing Interferences

Posted by Mike Kaaks

10 October 2012

As we deal with what’s going on around us it can be a real struggle to filter out the bits that are getting in the way of us making real progress. Removing these interferences is a key outcome of coaching. The great coach does not play the game for the one being coached, the great coach is not a teacher, the great coach is one who removes the interferences that are limiting the performance of the coachee; limiting the coachee’s ability to realise his or her potential; helping the coachee to make decisions which will change the way they are playing the game.

What about the interferences we face at work? Imagine having time in your work cycle to see with absolute clarity what you want to be, the change you want to lead, the difference you want to make, without the barriers thrown up by your inner self. No thoughts about the baggage of the past, no concerns about a future which may never emerge, just an interfer

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