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Category Archives for "Personal Performance"

Change or Die!

If you were told that unless you made a lifestyle change you would die, would you change?

Would you, though?

Research shows that you're probably wrong.​

In this video, I report on some fascinating research first made known by Alan Deutschmann. The results are surprising but hopeful.​

What emerges is an unlikely but compelling story of how we are influenced much more effectively through our hearts than our heads.

One of my favourite quotes comes out of this research:

"Joy is a more powerful motivator than fear." Dr Dean Ornish

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Check out the video.

Are Things so Different Now? Yes! They Are!!

As part of our current Leading Yourself online programme, I showed this video at our private webinar last night. It generated a great deal of interest.

For most of my career I have sought the changeless, timeless principles - in project management (in my contribution to PRINCE2)​, in programme management (in my contribution to Managing Successful Programmes) and in my work on Stakeholder Engagement (see Practical People Engagement). You will find principles in all these, many written by me.

Yet I have to admit that, setting aside superficial lifestyle changes and different technology, the world or work now has some very different forces at play to those I was aware of in the 20th Century.​ This video explains why.

Leading Yourself Online – Registration Closing Soon!

Leading Yourself Online is a unique series of workshops where I will coach you through the framework I set out in my book, Leading Yourself. It aims to help you:

  • Overcome 'Overwhelm' at work
  • Get more traction and effectiveness in your work and your career
  • End 2017 with the best career year ... ever

For an idea of what impact my workshop called Organising Yourself More Effectively had, watch this video interview with Jemima Alder of ResMed, a global medical business.

Patrick Mayfield interviews Jemima Alder

Your content here...

Patrick Mayfield Interviews Jemima Alder about the Organising Yourself Effectively Workshop

I will be bringing the best of my workshop experience to the online program, where you can join me and ​an exclusive community of fellow Leading Yourself Online owners. You will benefit from their shared experiences, as well as be encouraged by their own stories of breakthrough in their work.

'Leading Yourself Online Workshop is a unique program.

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If designed it for the busy manager, who cannot afford the time to attend a physical workshop.​

However, this is a time-limited offer. Registration is only open until Noon GMT Tuesday, 17th January ... and then we start the series of workshops.

If you want to get on this workshop series, then you need to act quickly... because we soon will be starting.

If you're ready to gain real traction in you work, to get organised and work unfettered, then your next step is to click the button below and get registered on this unique program.

See you there...​

2

Course Corrections – Part 2

For a period of time, a friend of mine prevailed on me to take up golf. To begin with, it seemed like I was doing random gardening on a long walk. I became very conscious of my muscle movements in a swing, which club to choose, and experimenting with little rituals, like the number of times I looked up at the target spot I was aiming for. I also became aware of two things that could undermine my performance as the game progressed: my inner emotional state after a ridiculously bad shot, and my physical stamina - or lack of it.

For me, golf was like random gardening on a long walk.

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I realised that the inner game of golf was all about self-awareness. What I became acutely focused on was being aware of my muscle movements, grip and so on. If I made a bad shot, I would attempt to adjust and see if I got a better result. I was constantly correcting myself.

In yesterday’s post, we looked at the Apollo 11 mission and how the accuracy of the launch targeting was a delusion; the reality was that they landed within the lunar landing zone by a process of constant correction - a sort of feedback loop.

Then I moved to talking about a more personal kind of feedback loop, the Daily Heads-Up technique that I use for my personal organisation.

At least every week, I review, hone and improve my key workflows.

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Feedback loops can operate at different cycles, such as at:

  • the weekly cycle. I ask myself the questions: What could I do differently this week to get better results than last week? What must I complete this week? What results to I want? I have noticed that these questions at the weekly level help me to work on my workflows. I’m continually reassessing and honing, for example, how I compose and publish articles like this one.
  • the monthly cycle. At this level, there is some overlap with the project cycle. It deals with somewhat more seasonal challenges. We are in the run-up to Christmas now, so my questions are centred a lot around being ready for the family visits, gifts, etc.
  • the annual cycle. I’ve just been through this, reviewing where I want to be by the end of 2017. This has really been an adjustment from positively saying ‘no’ to certain kinds of work, and positively saying ‘yes’ to replenishing events such as vacations, and positively moving towards the kind of work more aligned with my passions and chosen destiny. This is a less obvious, but profound level of course correction.
  • the project cycle. I’m coming to the end of a book publishing project. It’s not quite complete: you can’t find my book on Amazon yet (but you can find it here!!) And I’m about to start an online Leading Yourself programme very soon. Of course, there should be course corrections within the project cycle. Agile is very good at this, Waterfall less so.

In each case the feedback loop provides the opportunity for us to correct our course, to learn, and to get better results.

In the next post, I’ll look at how neglecting the course corrections, the feedback loop can hinder our effectiveness and growth, and why it is so easy to neglect this.

1

Course Corrections

I’m old enough to remember the first moon landing.

Everyone seemed to be in awe of this tremendous achievement. It was one of those moments when there was this feeling that the world had changed.

The distance between the Earth and the Moon is about half a million miles. The landing module landed within 10 feet of the edge of the landing zone. We were astonished that technology could be that accurate.

It wasn’t.

What we didn’t know was that throughout the flight, there was a course correction every five minutes. It appears that the trajectory of Apollo 11 was more like the tracking of a sailboat tacking against the wind than a dead-eye straight line to the moon. It seems that the Apollo mission was thrown up there, roughly towards the moon. If it hadn’t been these course corrections, the mission and the three men on board would have been lost in deep space.

There was a routine feedback loop. It was essential to the success of the mission.

We all have feedback loops we can use. I have discovered that one of the most powerful for me is what I call the Daily Heads Up a daily routine I write about in my new book, Leading Yourself. In the Daily Heads Up I do two things:

  • Review how I have done  over the last day; and
  • Plan the most important work for the next.

This is a circadian (daily) loop. There are other loops I use over different cycles. For example, I’ve just been reviewing 2016 and considering a 2017 plan.

I’ll talk about some of these over the next few days.

[reminder]What feedback loops are you aware of using? What feedback loops are you aware of not using?[/reminder]

3

Advice from the TOP 30 Influencers in Project Management

This week I was sent a report containing Advice from the 30 TOP influencers in project management. If you are not involved in project management professionally, I can quite understand that this will not set your heart racing! However, it is interesting to see the patterns that emerge from these ‘TOP influencers.’

(Full disclosure: I was chosen as one of the 30. The authors asked me and the other 29 contributors to give our take on what was our top tip.)

Click here to download the report.

Much of this so-called ‘top’ advice focuses on planning and re-planning. Important though planning is, it is nowhere near the top thing for me.

Many others get rather nearer the mark, in my opinion, and focus on stakeholder engagement and developing key relationships. See my own work on this.

However, I suggest – with apologies to JRR Tolkien – that there is one thing to rule them all:

developing your self-awareness.

Now, I recognise that to many people my choice might look pretty abstract and dull. Maybe even a little surprising. “Is that it??! Self-awareness. That feels very psychological and not very practical. What about the Time-Cost-Scope Triangle. What about the Critical Path?”

[shareable]Thinking about your thinking – self-awareness – is the key to driving all other habits that bring success.[/shareable]

Let me explain. The research I did a few years ago with my colleague John Edmonds revealed that self-awareness was key to high performance: high performing programme and project managers all exhibited a high degree of self-awareness, of mental clarity about their own thought processes. They all think about their thinking. Self-awareness drives all the other behaviours that give the high-performer real traction in the complex world of project management: behaviours like building and protecting personal margins, leaning to action, and leaning to people. See this diagram:

Self-Awareness: One Thing to Rule Them All

So how do we all develop self-awareness in our work? I show you how in my new book, Leading Yourself: Succeeding from the Inside OutI have since come to believe that this kind of high-performance is not for the exalted few, any of us can develop the right habits to get exceptional results.

[reminder]How do you think about your thinking?[/reminder]

Interruptions at Work

One of the most common complaints I hear from clients is about their office environments, about how noisy or distracting they are. Where they can, I’m finding many people excuse themselves from their office to get serious, thought-intensive work done. In fact, some even argue that the age of the office as we know it is long past its usefulness.

You might have a very well organised personal system. You might be very clear on your goals, priorities and how you apportion your time. But it can all come to nothing on any given day if your colleagues, your team, or your boss interrupt you all the time.

The irony is that people who work in offices are knowledge workers. The knowledge worker’s key tool is not their computer but their brain. And the office environment, many times, is the most hostile environment for clear, concentrated thinking.

[shareable]The knowledge worker’s key tool is between their ears, not at the end of their fingers.[/shareable]

Sooner or later there is a discussion to be had around office etiquette, about where and when it is reasonable to interrupt someone. How someone should signal to everyone else that they are not to be interrupted.

Someone shared with me yesterday an interesting technique: a traffic light system of red, amber, and green.

  • Green means there is no constraint on interrupting that person.
  • Amber means that this colleague is engaged in something that has time urgency, but they might be interruptible with something that is both important and urgent.
  • Red means that the person doesn’t want any interruption … unless the building is burning down.

This sounds good.

[shareable]The office environment is often the most hostile environment for clear, concentrated thinking.[/shareable]

It seems to me that part of the benefit of is this idea is that the whole team becomes more aware in this discussion of different gradations of importance and urgency, as well as the improved consideration they might begin to show to each other. However, it is probably best enforced and sustained by the entire team’s agreement and the teams reviews it regularly; without this, you are unlikely to serious behaviour change throughout the group.

[shareable cite=”Alexander Graham Bell”]Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus. [/shareable]

A central problem in this whole issue is that an individual’s focus and concentration is such a subjective and intangible matter. It is very hard to measure. Distraction will express itself indirectly through measures of productivity, but again, the realms of knowledge work, comparing like for like is always going to be a problem.

I like the traffic light system. I like it more because it encourages an overt conversation between all members of the team of this hidden thing called concentration.

[reminder]Do you know of any similar group codes of conduct about permission to interrupt? [/reminder]

An Unexpected Response to Feedback

My wife bought me a FitBit Blaze for my birthday a couple of weeks ago. I love it. I find myself consulting it or the app on my smartphone rather too frequently. If I’m not careful, I will walk into walls reading it!

As with most devices like this, I’m not using its full potential. For example, I’m not yet taking advantage of the power of accountability by sharing my results with others, despite some encouragement from my daughter.

My main focus at the moment is exercise and the number of steps I take each day, particular since injuring my calf muscle recently.

However, what has really taken me by surprise is how the device is tracking my sleep. And now it is tracking my sleep patterns, I find myself sleeping more soundly.

[shareable]I’m getting better quality sleep![/shareable]

I’m not aware of making any changes. I’m just observing myself, tracking the empirical feedback from the device. Yet I am getting better sleep each night.

Why is this? Could it be that self-awareness is key in this matter? I would have thought that if I obsessed too much about my sleep then I would keep myself awake. But tracking myself this way is really reassuring.

[reminder]Has anyone got any ideas?[/reminder]

Repeat until Excellent

Today I’m connecting with my ‘inner geek.’  When it comes to stationery, particular stationery, I become a geek. One of my favourites notebooks is the A5 Leuchtterm 1917 145 x 210mm notebook.

Also, I use a tailored form of the Bullet Journal.

And today these two combine for me into one beautiful whole, because Leuchtterm has published its own bullet journal version. My cup runneth over!

Leuchtterm Bullet Journal

My beloved Leuchtterm 1917 Bullet Journal

I ordered mine from the good people at Bureau Direct.

Having written a book about personal organisation over this summer, I became acutely aware that my own personal organisation has evolved and continues to do so. This is normal and good. In fact, one client has shared with me that he does the same.

It seems that as we continually work on ourselves using the artefacts of stationery, apps and organisation systems, we are actually improving our self-leadership.

I’m also aware that there is no “one size fits all” solution when it comes to personal organisation. What works for me will not necessarily work for you. This keeps me humble. It stops me being a legalist. There is no “one right way” of doing this personal organisation thing.

[shareable]Evolving your personal organisation system is normal and good.[/shareable]

For example, some people will get on with the Bullet Journal, others will prefer, say, the GTD system, still others will combine the two.

That’s all very good. The process of refining and improving my personal organisation system doesn’t lead me to the same result as everybody else, but the process helps me to discover my style and to improve my personal organisation in the process.

So despite my geeky tendencies, I have come to the conclusion that techniques and tools – including my beloved stationery – although worthy in themselves, are simply the elements around which we develop the most important and powerful forces in our lives: our personal routines and habits.

[shareable]It’s never about the artefacts. It’s how you use them that counts.[/shareable]

In my book and in my workshop on Organising Yourself More Effectively and my associated online courses, I review the Bullet Journal system with some respect. It is simple, elegant and can easily be tailored. It’s the use of it that I develop daily routines that serve me well.

[shareable cite=”Aristotle”]We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.[/shareable]

Overall, it is important that I keep my inner geek in check. After all, it is the system, the routines and the habits that serve me in becoming more effective, not the lovely stationery.

[reminder]What are your personal routines that you find powerful? Do you use the Bullet Journal system? How do you use it?[/reminder]

Are we developing our critical skills the right way?

When I began writing Leading Yourself, the working title I started with was “The Soul of Personal Mastery.” ‘Personal Mastery’ is a term much-loved in leadership academies, so I explored the idea of mastery. ‘Mastery’ has some negative connotations, so I backed off from it as the central label and moved to the concept of self-leadership.

However, my research returned me to the Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition, something that was referenced by the APM’s L&D team at one of their training providers’ away days. It appears that we may be investing in the wrong kind of learning solutions for some skill levels, and perhaps under-emphasising other kinds of solutions. Continue reading