The REACT framework™ – blog post #3

REACT_CalmFor this third blog post in the short series on the REACT framework™ it’s ‘give us an ‘A’!’ The REACT framework™ will enable you to have the finest chance to be the best you want to be, and for you to be in this position on virtually every occasion

 

R

 

Recognise

E Evaluate
A Appropriate
C Claim
T Take
 

A is for Appropriate resources. What are the resources that would enable you to access the appropriate state? That is the state that would give to the best chance of achieving your goal. Resources include obvious physical things like equipment, clothing and even chocolate, but also include the less tangible such as feelings. It may be that what you need in the appropriate state is to feel happy, or to be excited, or to have a great sense of achievement. They also include thoughts. In order to achieve what you want right now, what would it be helpful to think about? For example, you may want to create a new product or service – might it be useful to think about that last time you did so, or perhaps a time when you were particularly creative or inventive? Beliefs are also an example of intangible resources – was there a time that you really believed you could triumph over adversity, seemingly overwhelming odds, and outstanding competition? Initially select the three most important resources you have identified.

AppropriateIn imagining the resources that would be most appropriate, you will want your current state to be congruent with you. The ‘Dance with the Elephants’ chapter Your Congruence is Vital and the bonus material called A Model for Alignment outline the importance and power of congruence. Your state is the way that you are in any given moment. It is made up of a combination of any or all of your physiology, your emotions, your acuity, and your spiritual condition (the latter being the relationship between you and a sense of something larger than you). When you think about what would be the appropriate resources to enable you to change your state, make sure they are all congruent with you. That includes those chocoholics whose beliefs and values include purity of diet.

In the A stage, it is useful to focus on identifying what the appropriate resources would be, with no thought about where to obtain them from, and no regard for whether or not you have ever had such resources. Don’t limit yourself, let your imagination run free, let a child-like curiosity determine the resources you would like to have in order to be the best you want to be.

child_like wonderCreativity in identifying appropriate resources will give you fewer limitations, a greater number of options, and will create new possibilities for you if you let it. The chapter of ‘Dance with the Elephants’ titled Get Creative! Introduces and explains the CREATE process for increasing individual and collective creativity. There is also a planned Bonus Material on innovation and creativity that will be available from http://bit.ly/BonusMaterials when it is released.

The next blog post will explain what to do next, and how, after you have identified your appropriate resources – that is claim them! If you want to really understand the REACT framework™, and want to perfect your use of it to be the best you want to be click on http://bit.ly/REACTworkshop

 

Be the best you want to be – blog post 2/5

In this second blog post in the series on the REACT framework™ we reach the letter ‘E’.

 

R

 

Recognise

E Evaluate
A Appropriate
C Claim
T Take
 

E is for Evaluate your state. Is your state appropriate for what you want to do, how you want to feel, how you want to be with the world? If you are feeling a little blue, is that helping you right now? Are you excited, buoyant and focused?

If your breathing is rapid and shallow, does that fit with what you want to do? If you want to really exercise, it may be appropriate. If you want to deeply consider something complex, important and long-term in nature, perhaps controlling your breathing and taking long, deep, slow breaths would be more useful.

Your state can be affected by your environment; what is your environment like at the moment and what impact is it having on you right now? Continuing with the theme of deep consideration, are you somewhere calm and tranquil, or are you in a noisy, bustling, crowded area with many visual and auditory distractions?

evaluateWe don’t always appreciate where our state originated. It may be it is not even our natural state, but one that has been conditioned into us. To this day, I have ‘white-coat’ syndrome whenever someone suggests taking my blood pressure. I know where it comes from – my father’s family had a strong (and correct) concern that having their blood pressure taken could reveal an increased possibility of experiencing a heart attack. I know it isn’t my state, and if I don’t react to that state, I can feel my heart rate increasing. Years ago, I would not be conscious of my state of anxiety at the time of annual medicals, would not recognise that it wasn’t even my state and that my resultant actions followed my state. There was a period when my company doctor had concerns that my blood pressure readings were consistently higher than he liked. Once I learned to recognise my state, and to react accordingly my doctor’s concerns lessened as my readings fell. (I would love to tell you they fell and stayed low, but if you recall, earlier in this paragraph I told you I still struggle with the condition even now.)

doctor_white coatIn the Evaluate stage, all you want to do is to understand whether or not your state is appropriate. If it is, is there anything you can change that would amplify the effect, would give you an even more appropriate state? Perhaps some quiet and soothing music would help. Switching off that ‘phone or computer so you know you won’t be interrupted? Some little treat that would make you feel even better? (Chocoholics know what I mean!)

Stay calm as you evaluate your state; it is what it currently is. The talent lies in recognising whether or not your current state is the right state for you to be in to be the best you want to be.

In the next blog post, we will move towards creating the right state that will enable you to be the best you want to be. If you want to really understand the REACT framework™, and want to perfect your use of it to be the best you want to be click here http://bit.ly/REACTworkshop

The REACT framework™ – blog post #1

 

REACT_CalmThis is the first post in a series that will enable you to be the best you want to be, almost all the time. On several occasions in the book ‘Dance with the Elephants’ reference is made to recognising and recording the positives that you experience each and every day. The chapter entitled ‘Celebrate!’ explains the process that your conscious mind can use to train your other-than-conscious mind, creating new neural pathways in your brain. The framework that will be explained in this series of blog posts will enable you not only to supplement the creation of these new neural pathways but also to access resources that will enable you to be even more successful.

Doing the work on your Big Dream, Crafted Well, Engaging All is vitally important, but sometimes it just isn’t enough. Surprisingly (or, maybe not) we get in the way of our own success. I write ‘maybe not’ because it probably isn’t surprising given that a lot of our moods, thoughts and deeds are determined by our other-than-conscious minds. We really aren’t consciously in control a lot of the time.

So how do you counter the influence, power and control of your other-than-conscious mind? How do you seize back control in order to give yourself the best chance of realising your Big Dream and achieving your transformation?

Here is a framework I have developed over time. I use it personally, and I help my clients to learn how to use this powerful tool to have available to them the resources they need to be the best they want to be.

 R Recognise
E Evaluate
A Appropriate
C Claim
T Take
 

R is for Recognise your state. Your state is the way that you are in any given moment. It is made up of a combination of any or all of your physiology, your emotions, your acuity, and your spiritual condition (the latter being the relationship between you and a sense of something larger than you). In order to manage your state you must first be able to recognise your state, something most people don’t do very often, often only recognising their state when it gets to be at an extreme end of a spectrum. Sometimes we only recognise that we are fearful when we are very, very afraid. Sometimes it is only extreme giddy elation that leads to us recognising we are elated. Sometimes it is only when we have really lost our cool and our tempers, when we are screaming out loud, when we are physically shaking, that we recognise we are very angry about something, or somebody.

unawareRecognising your state is a learnable skill that improves with practice. Take a moment now to notice your physiology. Is your breathing deep or shallow? Is it slow and long or quick and short? Is it through your nose, your mouth or a bit of both?

Notice other things about your physiology. Are you sitting upright or are you slumped? What is your temperature like? Are you cold, or warm, or is the temperature just right?

Consider what your body is telling you. Do you have any aches or pains? Can you feel how your feet are touching the ground? If you are sitting, which parts of your body are touching whatever you are sitting on?

What is your emotional state right now? How are you feeling about what you are experiencing right now? This exercise is having what effect on your emotions? Are you happy, frustrated, or perhaps curious? Don’t process these questions intellectually, but instead feel your responses.

How is your mental state right now, in this very moment, in this very place? What is your level of attentiveness, your degree of awareness, your volume of conscious brain activity?

Having conscious awareness of your current state is the first step. In subsequent blog posts I will take you through the rest of the journey to being the best you want to be.

The CREATE process – blog post 3 of 3

get creativeA process for creativity – post 3 of 3

This is the final post of this series covering the CREATE process which was developed to optimise the creativity of both individuals and teams. I use it when I am working alone and want to maximise my creative capacity. I also use it when working with teams of people or with individual clients. Let me explain the acronym once more:

C Cosmos
R Roster
E Enhance
A Assurance
T The Funny Side
E Emancipated

Posts 1 and 2 covered C to A, so let’s finish with T and E.

Funny sideT is for The Funny Side. Seeing the funny side, being unafraid to be humorous, keeping the mood light and playful, all give access to the quickest and most effective ways of moving into the creative mode. Often we limit the use of humour because we regard it as inappropriate when discussing important, weighty, serious matters. So often we confuse seriousness with solemnity, but it is wrong to equate seriousness and solemnity. I would argue that solemnity is the defence of the pompous and self-important, who need to protect against their egotism being punctured by humour. Humour might impact their self-image. The lack of humour is used by them to argue they are more serious, and their arguments therefore carry more weight.

In reality, humour is an essential part of innovation, of playfulness, of creativity. Enabling the introduction of humour is a vital component of the process of innovation. Creativity lives and thrives on the funny side. Seeing the funny side may be a little more difficult when working individually, but it is just as important as it is when working in teams. When I am working individually and want to be able to see the funny side, I find a mirror is helpful. It is not about vanity; it is a mechanism to check if I am seeing the funny side. The mirror reminds me that I should be smiling, smirking, laughing out loud. The visual evidence shows me whether or not I am being effective at accessing the funny side. 🙂 or 😦 in the mirror?

E is for Emancipated. This goes to the heart of fully engaging ourselves as creative individuals and to getting maximum creativity from groups. Emancipation is defined as ‘being not limited socially or politically’. So why choose this word? Let me start by linking back to the funny side. The emancipated see no limit to what is regarded as humorous on the funny side. Their humour mocks convention, attacks widely held taboos, and can be regarded as shocking by more conventional people. This is my point. True creativity lies beyond the boundaries of conventional wisdom, of the rules of society, of what we regard as normal behaviour.

The same emancipation applies in the earlier Enhance step. There should be no limit imposed by conventional wisdom on how far our ideas can be enhanced and stretched. Often when the idea is stretched as far as the absurd, new ideas and new thoughts emerge that would not have been considered within the boundaries of what is regarded conventionally as acceptable.

creativity-takes-courageIt is clear to me that pushing the boundaries, stretching the ideas, going as far as the absurd are actually the keys to accessing true creativity. I also recognise, particularly in group situations, that this can be a fairly daunting, anarchic and maybe even dangerous activity. Walking the tightrope that balances accessing the absurd on the one hand and moderating the impact of doing so on the other is challenging. Walking this tightrope is a learnable skill.

Having a skilled observer, facilitator and interventionist to help a group to navigate their way through this process of creativity is, without doubt, helpful. Be sure that whoever fulfils this role has the right focus. You want someone who is focused on future possibility, on creativity and on pushing the boundaries. You don’t want somebody taking on this role mainly owing to their past experiences, as these may lead to a limiting framework. I have a lot of respect for mentors, but the CREATE facilitator role is not for them as their strengths derive from their previous experience. Far better to choose a skilled coach whose focus will be on you and your future possibilities.

I wish you good fortune using the CREATE process. Have curiosity, have courage and have fun!

creativity_Fromm

A process for creativity – blog post 2 of 3

get creativeThis is the second of three blog posts on the CREATE process which has been developed to optimise the creativity of both individuals and teams. I use it when I am working alone and want to maximise my creative capacity. I also use it when working with teams of people or with individual clients. Let me again explain the acronym:

C Cosmos
R Roster
E Enhance
A Assurance
T The Funny Side
E Emancipated

The last post reviewed C and R, let’s move to E and A.

E is for Enhance. So often our creativity is limited by our discomfort at not having the solution to a problem, by our desire to make a choice or to take a decision. This part of the process is about patience, belief in the process of creativity and giving time, more time, and even more time, if necessary, to enhance the emerging ideas.

more timeIt is about giving ideas the time to flourish and the opportunity to be considered without a rush to judgement. The ‘gold standard’ here is to be able to access the child-like wonder and sense of exploration where there are no limitations, no fears and no limits on how much we can dream and create. I recall hearing John Cleese speak about the creative process used by the Monty Python team, and he emphasised this need to give time, more time, and even more time to ideas that weren’t quite working; eventually the really creative (and hilarious in the case of Monty Python) idea emerges.

This ability to really enhance is a learnable skill if you create the right conditions in which to build up your practice time, whether practicing on your own or with other people in a team setting. The right conditions include the physical environment, the right state of mind and a way of being with you, and with others if applicable, that is conducive to creativity. The first two are factors you will most likely understand already; the third is less immediately obvious.

Before I explain, let’s consider the modes we adopt in our work and in our lives that are relevant to creativity. We humans operate in two different modes. The first is the closed mode, which is the one we operate in most of the time at work. In this mode we are very purposeful, with a sense that there is much to be done, and that we need to get on with it. It is a very active, perhaps even anxious, mode. In this mode creativity is very difficult, if not impossible to access. We get lots done, we are very decisive, and action is the focus of our being. Quite often it is seen as a very efficient way of operating – one that is purposeful, productive and proficient.

Contrast this with the open mode. This is the creative mode. It is often seen as the antithesis of efficiency, the enemy of progress and the domain of the feckless. It may be portrayed as ‘lying around’, ‘shooting the breeze’ or ‘daydreaming’. While this open, creative mode may be seen in this way by the action junkies who thrive in the closed mode, it is the open mode that is necessary for creativity to exist, flourish and enhance your Big Dreams. But the open mode in itself is not enough.

children-playing-with-blocksSo what more is needed to create ‘the way of being’ that is conducive to increased creativity in the open mode? Firstly, you should give yourself and others permission to be creative, to be imaginative, and even to be silly. Secondly, there should be no limits here, no restrictions brought about by conventional wisdom, and no strictures. Any statements of criticism or disapproval will snuff out the candle-flame of creativity. Finally, a feeling of fun, a dose of child-like naivety and playfulness and a good sense of humour (which will be needed when you get to T, so start now) all enable you to really enhance the ideas.

This moves us nicely into A is for Assurance. An assurance is a promise. The promise is that no idea will be regarded as irrelevant, unworthy or stupid. This promise attacks the very heart of the biggest potential block to innovation – the fear of making a mistake. It’s important to enable complete confidence that whatever evolves is okay, to create the child-like delight with the playfulness of experimentation and to remember that you cannot be spontaneous within reason. The promise helps people to really harness the innovation that lies in the art of ‘What if?’

If you’re working individually, it is a promise you must make, and keep, to and for yourself. In group working, it is helpful to have a non-judgemental environment where everyone knows they will have an equal opportunity to contribute. In the first case of individual working having a skilled coach can be very efficacious. In the latter situation it is often useful to have a skilled facilitator helping you to create, maintain and enhance the assurance that is so important to your collective success.

creativity without limitsI wish you good fortune using the CREATE framework. Have curiosity, have courage and have fun!

The CREATE process – blog post 1 of 3

 

get creativeThe CREATE process was developed to optimise the creativity of both individuals and teams. I use it when I am working alone and want to maximise my creative capacity. I also use it when working with teams of people or with individual clients. Let me explain the acronym:

C Cosmos
R Roster
E Enhance
A Assurance
T The Funny Side
E Emancipated

This is the first in a series of 3 blog posts examining the CREATE process, considering the practical use of C and R.

CosmosC is for Cosmos. The choice of word is deliberate in that it represents moving to a ‘different world’ – a world that is away from the hurly-burly of the day-to-day operations of your business. It is important to create the right environment for creativity and innovation to emerge. Moving to a different Cosmos tells you, both consciously and at the level of the other-than-conscious mind, that this is going to be different to what you were just doing.

Often the changes needed to move to the ‘different world’ are tangible, are physical, but the intent is to affect changes in the intangible, in the mind and mood of the subject or team. Obvious things such as logging off from email, switching off the mobile, and putting on the right ‘mood music’ (for me it is often the highlights of an opera) come to mind. I also often move away from my usual work location, at my desk in front of my laptop, in favour of a comfortable sofa or perhaps I will grab a pen and notepad and embark upon a riverside or country walk. If I am particularly organised I might swap the notepad and pen for my dictation machine. One technique I used quite frequently when writing ‘Dance with the Elephants’ was one I learned many years ago and adapted to increase my writing creativity. The concept of ‘job and done’ was that one completed the tasks that needed to be done that day and then ‘knocked off’ or finished for the day. In my case, I analysed my ‘to-do’ list and identified only the ‘must-do’ items. My bargain with myself was to complete the required tasks and then spend the rest of the day on my book – thinking, planning and capturing trains of thought that could later be turned into draft text. Responding to the immediate needs of my business meant my ‘work day’ usually ended after 3pm (sometimes well after), leaving me perhaps a few hours ‘creative time’, but it is surprising how much creativity can be squeezed out of as little as thirty minutes.

RosterR is for Roster. It is the process of carving time out of the diary in order to be creative. It is important to ensure that not only is the time allocated within your schedule, but that you also respect the time allocated. It is so easy (I write from personal experience) to schedule time to work creatively on a task, but then continue doing email at the start of your roster of creative time. Before you know it, the 90 minutes you scheduled is down to 60 because you just wanted to clear the in-box! Or you fail to switch off your mobile, and half way through your creative time you get a call or a text (they are always immediate but not necessarily important).

If you have people around you, tell them in advance that you are going to have a period when you will not be available because you will be working creatively on something. If you don’t have people around, then email some people you know to tell them about your creative time. Do whatever you can to publically commit to your creative time, and let your public commitments help you to adhere to getting the best out of your planned creative time.

When you have actually honoured your commitment to your creative roster, give yourself a treat, a reward, a gift that recognises and reinforces your achievement. Think about telling others about the outputs from your creative time, increasing your commitment to those outputs. Better still, tell them – don’t just think about telling them.

One tip I will share with you about Roster is to not schedule too long a period of time to be in the creative mode. I have found 90 minutes to two hours is about right. Over two hours is too long for many reasons. These include the fact that we do still have businesses that require our attention and decisions, the creative process can actually be quite tiring, and after two hours you have other bodily needs to attend to.

creativity_EinsteinI wish you good fortune using the CREATE framework. Have curiosity, have courage and have celebration!

Winning sponsors…

Highway Signpost "Business Transformation"How can you be a successful Sponsor of business transformation? A winning Sponsor PACES FAVOURS. Here are my top tips for what Sponsors must have.

Power – the organisational power to sanction or veto change, to support or oppose targets.

A public face – the willingness and capability to exhibit the public support that is necessary to deliver change through strong organisational backing.

Capacity to monitor – the determination and capability to establish and nurture monitoring systems and processes to track progress and setbacks.

monitoring

Effects – the ability to make sure that what ensues from an action is appropriate. Promptly rewarding those actions that support the change and sanctioning those that do not.

Scope – the capability to comprehend the scale of the impact and consequences of the change.

Foresight – a thorough understanding of the effect the changes will have on all stakeholders, and a comprehension of their likely reactions.

foresightA private face – the ability, willingness and emotional intelligence needed to convey strong personal support privately to key individuals and groups.

Vision – a clear definition of the change that will occur, the ability to define, express and embody the Big, Well-Crafted Dream that Engages All.

visionObstinacy – the sheer determination to succeed and the ability to reject short-term actions that are inconsistent with the long-term goals. Without compromising the ability to recognise flexibility is needed, the stubbornness to maintain course when that is the appropriate choice.

Understanding – a comprehensive understanding of the organisational resources (time, people, materials, money and so on) needed for successful implementation combined with the willingness and capability to commit them.

Ruthless compassion – the ability to fully understand and empathise with the significant personal issues major change raises, combined with the determination and ability to do the right thing for the transformation in the face of these issues.

Ruthless compassionSacrifice – the commitment to pursue the transformation, in the sure knowledge that it is likely a price will have to be paid.

 

You can find out more about being a winning sponsor from the ‘Dance with the Elephants’ Bonus Material ‘Successfully Sponsoring Transformation’ available here http://bit.ly/BonusMaterials