June 28th, 2011 at 1:02 pm (Home)
What a month it has been! June is always a busy period as the school holidays mean creating space in between my corporate work for school programmes with students and teachers.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I love what I do with corporate professionals and military officers for the intellectual stimulation and business dynamism. At the same time, the occasional work with children is good for my soul and the time spent with youths infuses me with energy and anticipation.
Somewhere in between work I caught up with a group of my former students, now in their mid twenties and making the transition from university to the workplace. One is a talented artist seeking purpose for his creations. Another is contemplating his passions in flying and law. Yet another is stretching himself and his horizons in civil engineering. Two have followed the noble path into teaching. And two others are wading into the heady world of banking and finance.
To be invited back into their midst and to sit there listening and inquiring (the coach in me could not resist the temptation to spring some questions to challenge them further), I was extremely proud to know that I was a part of their journey. I can’t put into words the immense satisfaction I felt from watching them grow and blossom – all the while remaining grounded – into such fine young men ready to leave their mark on the world. And that was when I realized what is it that makes me do what I do, that is, to get to say, “I was there”.
Somewhere along the way, I asked a question, told a story, gave a lecture, offered a piece of advice, shared a part of my life. Somewhere along the way, I challenged, provoked, galvanised, enthused, inspired. Somewhere along the way, I was a teacher, a confidant, a coach, a role model, a friend. And somewhere along their way, I made a difference. I was useful. I was there.
For all teachers out there, the school term reopens this week and you will continue that ritual of entering your classroom to see those familiar faces in front of you. Know that every hour you have with those expectant lives is a privilege. For in that short period the whole world outside ceases to exist. It’s only you and them. What will YOU do with this privilege?
June 17th, 2011 at 1:17 pm (Home)
Sitting in quiet café taking a breather from a particularly busy period of work, I find myself reflecting on the first half of the year as it draws to a close. I always look forward to these moments of stopping and taking a look. It gives me a healthy sense of perspective and acts as a self check mechanism. How much have I grown? Am I on track or off track? What do I acknowledge myself for? What are the things and people I am grateful for? And, importantly, where do I go from here?
Peter Senge, acclaimed ‘Strategist of the Century’ by the Journal of Business Strategy, wrote the seminal management book that popularized the concept of the ‘learning organization’. In The Fifth Discipline, he explores the principle of creative tension, which “comes from seeing clearly where we want to be, our vision, and telling the truth about where we are, our current reality. The gap between the two generates a natural tension.”
Just like a stretched rubber band, creative tension seeks release and resolution ie. it wants to snap back together. This can be resolved in two ways: by raising current reality toward the vision, or by lowering the vision toward current reality. In other words, we either take action toward our goals and vision or we scale back on what we want.
Lowering our vision is the easy way out and combats the emotional tension of not seeing the results that we want. The moment we scale back on what we want, we heave a sigh of relieve and the tension is released. But this is the action of compromise and mediocrity.
The other way is use the creative energy generated from the tension and seek resolution by taking inspired action. What we then need to recognize is the delay that will occur. A noble vision or important goal takes time to realize. Our actions are less of a sprint and more likely resemble an endurance race. Hence the necessity for short term objectives, for acknowledging our little wins, for building a support network, for taking those little steps that accumulate to a giant leap.
By continually taking stock of where you are, you get an accurate picture of your current reality. By continually revisiting your vision, you generate a compelling picture of your future. Then manage the gap and take the path toward excellence and extraordinariness.
It is not what your goal, dream or vision is, but what it does. What will you do?
June 3rd, 2011 at 9:14 am (Home)
It has been a tremendously busy month (busy is good!) and I have been inspired by a number of people around me so I thought it useful to pose the following questions to the busy people out there:
Are you caught up in activity or are you taking inspired action?
Are you letting others suck the life out of you or are you breathing life into others?
Are you swept along by the flow or are you living your personal mission?
Your life. YOU live it.