Of Time Travel, Forks in the Road, and Knowing Thyself
Posted by Mike Kaaks25 March 2022
Just Be Ready for Change
Posted by Mike Kaaks24 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
A Paradox in Me
Posted by Mike Kaaks19 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
Some homespun philosophy
Posted by Mike Kaaks23 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
Creativity and Original Thought
Posted by Mike Kaaks18 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
Posted by Mike Kaaks23 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.
Life is one big Mind Map
Posted by Mike Kaaks23 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
Collaborating - First Know Thyself
Posted by Mike Kaaks23 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
Context is Critical
Posted by Mike Kaaks20 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
At the Crossroads
Posted by Mike Kaaks28 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.
I'm an anthropologist
Posted by Mike Kaaks21 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
Posted by Mike Kaaks28 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
Get but out of your usage
Posted by Mike Kaaks15 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
Cause and Effect
Posted by Mike Kaaks25 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
Posted by Mike Kaaks28 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
A 100 day plan for the New Year
Posted by Mike Kaaks18 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 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
Purpose and Values
Posted by Mike Kaaks26 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
Posted by Mike Kaaks10 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