Make a brand new ending for yourself

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start from where you are and change the ending” CS Lewis When I applied to compete in the round the world yacht race, I had never sailed before. When I completed my application, I nearly typed “I can’t sail” and that’s a great example of the power of your mind. If I had truly held that belief, then I would never have signed up. I certainly did not know how to sail a 70 foot racing yacht. Yet I believed that due to the transferable skills I had from my various life experiences such as the ability to learn new languages, then I could certainly learn the language of sailing vocabulary. Also, if I had learned how to race up hills on my road bike and ride for over 150km, then I definitely had the skills of balance, stamina, strength and resilience which would be invaluable during the race. I had never even tried to sail, so how would I know that I “couldn’t” do it? As it turned out  I am pretty good up on the foredeck, not so good up the mast and in a racing scenario someone more adept than me would be better on the helm. I did in fact race over 43,000 nautical miles in 11 months – not bad for someone who nearly wrote that she “can’t” sail! Do you sometimes have that monkey on your shoulder – also known as the negative voice in your head – that tells you that you shouldn’t or can’t do something? That voice might stem...

Powerful questions for bigger thinking

Questions act as the critical trigger to bigger thinking. For example, in the workplace, if you try to do something differently, you may be met with the response, ‘That’s not how we do things here.’ The big thinker would wonder why not and would not hesitate to ask ‘What stops you?’ This is a powerful question. Cristina Bianchi / Maureen Steele writing in Coaching for Innovation Questions lie at the heart of coaching and when you want to coach for innovation, you need to be asking powerful questions to stimulate connections that have not been made before. It is then much more likely that the outcome is change and a different way of doing things, whether this change is gradual and progressive or radical and revolutionary. Finding the right words at the right time to ask the perfect question that focuses the attention of the listener where it most needs to be is a tough call. This is often because neither the person who is asking the question, nor the person who is being asked, realises consciously that the question prompts the listener in a certain direction and will generally predetermine the answer. In other words, you do really get what you ask for. Characteristics of powerful questions Powerful questions are well formulated – the choice of words is critical. Incorporate into your question the key words used by the other person to demonstrate that you have listened well and that you value what has just been said. Use short and simple sentences that provide clarity about what you are asking. Have one clear ask rather than asking multiple...

Make it your mission to drive innovation

“You do not need to be either a born innovator or a professional coach to use coaching to drive innovation. You do need the right attitude, behaviours, skill set and a ready supply of tested and practical coaching models.” Cristina Bianchi / Maureen Steele writing in Coaching for Innovation Innovation is not something you need to shy away from or be intimidated by. Innovation is about coming up with things (or ways of doing things) that are new and useful and which add value for the customer, whoever this customer may be. First step: have the right attitude Driving the innovation process and making innovation happen means playing your part in creating a culture in which idea generation can flourish, deciding what to do with the ideas that are produced and then following through with the implementation. Without this approach and attitude you will find it very difficult to be effective: Be convinced about the benefits that innovation brings. Have the purpose of adding value in some new way. Drive yourself to look for new ways of doing things. Cultivate your curiosity and your willingness to learn. Second step: ten ways to behave like an innovator There are some common behaviours shared by most successful innovators.  None of these behaviours, either individually or taken together, act as a guarantee for innovation but without them it is extremely unlikely that you will even get started: Observe and be curious about everything. Ask questions of yourself and others. Listen with great attention. Look for opportunities at every twist and turn of the road. Connect with other people and be interested in...