Have you ever wondered what you’re capable of if you just sat and thought about the possibilities? In this chaotic world of multi-tasking and the need to keep in touch, this can impact on our levels of distraction. I am always curious to find out what someone could really do if they got rid of the distractions and sat quietly, thought, and dreamt.
It’s been said that we can see what's hidden from view with silence and stillness. Yet today it’s so hard to do. Those that make it a priority for themselves can unlock their own personal possibilities. See, when you just sit and think and extract yourself from the distractions, you suddenly get in touch with yourself, your true self, your own thoughts, and in some cases your negative voices. That can be a scary thought for many of us so we hide behind the world of distraction. So perhaps it is time to be brave!
Start the process today. Make a time in your diary for tomorrow to spend 5 or 10 minutes, maybe more, just sitting in silence quite still with your journal - thinking. Write down pondering words that interest you. We may just start to glimpse what’s hidden from view by our usual distractions, through sitting with silence and stillness. It may take some time to become comfortable with this exercise, so make it a daily ritual to commit at some point in your day the time to immerse yourself in stillness and silence.
The Stoics did it. Ben Franklin, Mark Twain and George Lucas did it. Linked In founder Reid Hoffman and chess prodigy, and author Josh Waitzkin do it. They all journal. Each has their own particular method and reason for journalling. It is a commonality in 9 out of 10 people that I interview on the Mojo Radio Show.
What I find curious is that many people who journal to record learnings, articulate their dreams, record brainstorming notes, or jot actions from their meeting feel like they are out of the digital technology loop by using pen and paper. This post is about telling you it’s okay. It’s okay to go old school and use pen and paper to think. You don’t have to record digitally if you lean towards pencil and paper. The great didn’t, and future greats will continue to do it.
I would say that each person should use the systems or processes that they feel work best for them. Research has shown that by using a digital device to take down notes you are ‘recording’ – as opposed to ‘comprehending’ when you use a pen and paper –ie: when you write, you are understanding the learning and taking it in with context.
It is up to you to use what works best for you, but don’t be discouraged by those who think that pen or pencil and paper are archaic. There is something magical about a beautiful pen and a stylish journal that helps you dream and learn using colour, doodles, drawings and illustrations on paper. It’s OK!
If you are looking for a journal that is a bit different, check out the Mojo journal, the world’s first thought-provoking journal, beautifully illustrated and styled. It’s a combination of a book and a journal to help you unlock your great ideas.
Whilst I was in Melbourne last week, I met an intriguing lady during a creative session. During our conversation I learned that she was an Italian soprano. Naturally curious we spent some time talking about how one becomes an Italian soprano and how that skill is used. I was fascinated. It turns out that this young lady loved drama and it wasn’t until a drama teacher, who thought she may have some talent, suggested she try some singing as a soprano. Prior to this suggestion, she had never even entertained the thought. She cleverly decided to go with the opinion of her teacher and give it a go and the rest is history.
During the week I saw a paragraph written by genius Stephen Hawkings. He said "At school, I was never more than about halfway up the class. It was a very bright class. My classwork was very untidy, and my handwriting was the despair of my teachers. But my classmates gave me the nickname Einstein, so presumably they saw signs of something better. When I was twelve, one of my friends bet another friend a bag of sweets that I would never come to anything. I don't know if this bet was ever settled, and if so, which way it was decided.”
If you’re unsure about your passion in life, ask your closest friends, teachers, family members, and confidants and undoubtedly they will see something you don’t. The trick is to listen, think about it, and if something piques your interest, take action. Our immediate default is to disregard compliments, wipe them, and move on. Instead, listen, ponder, sleep on it, and if there is any interest at all, get after it. At least get out there and give it a go.
This edition of the Espresso is coming to you from the Olsen hotel in Melbourne Australia, a hotel part of the Art Series of hotels. What’s unique about the Arts Series Hotels is that each hotel is themed on a famous Australian artist. Every room, corridor, conference room, and public area is covered in art by John Olsen. Each day I read stories published by many business experts talking about having a point of difference (mind you many of them have no POD themselves). It’s become wallpaper. What’s your unique proposition, your point of difference, what will stand you apart from the rest?
Most leaders read this, acknowledge it, but then do nothing about it. 90% of the websites you visit today have no clear point of difference articulated beneath their logo or in the first part of their copy, let alone having staff who can clearly articulate what makes their company different and/or famous. Everyone talks about it, but so few can do it.
I was setting up for my speech in the conference room of the Olsen when I said to one of the staff ‘what’s the story with this hotel?’. He told me about the arts series of hotels and I believe is one of the few hotels that clearly has a point of difference to any other hotel I have visited in Australia. It’s a clear point of difference, demonstrated in every room, and articulated in both its back story and execution.
Everyone knows you need a point of difference but sadly so few companies have a brand that stands out. Audit yourself! Go to your website - check out the front page, look at your business card, email signature or the front door of your office and ask yourself ‘Am I telling my customer why I am different? Your customer needs to know why? Why you?’
After a speech I gave recently in Sydney one of the attendees approached me and said, as of tomorrow I am going to approach my day with intention and consciousness, I feel like I just got through my day, but I did not really control it, I did what everyone else wanted me to do, in their time. I was not consciously focused on my day, my steps towards my dreams, my essential tasks to take me to the dreams and aspirations I have?
This is a common issue facing many of us. We roll into our days with a to-do list, only to have our day interrupted by other people and their agendas. We never really focus on the most important tasks in each area of our lives in and out of work, in order to realise our dreams.
Remember, to win the day, it starts the night before. Tonight, plan out tomorrow: What’s the one thing that I must get nailed in my health, community, business, family, and write them onto your page with the action you will take regarding each of those items. To roll into a day with a massive to-do list and no clear focus as to the one most important thing in each area of your day, is to live by other people’s agendas and not to live with true consciousness and intention.
If you are not sure where you are with your dreams, go back through your journals and see what you were thinking some years back. What you aspired to be, what you wanted in your world, and what you saw as a compelling future. This is where journals are so powerful. It’s a trusted companion that stores your great ideas and dreams for decades.
As an example, imagine how many ideas will never see the light of day in the corporate world from brainstorms conducted over the last number of years. There would be hundreds of thousands of action plans, ideas, and the social charts which never saw the light of day because once everybody left the creative session and went back to their normal lives, the ideas were never stored, reviewed, or executed upon on a regular basis.
It’s something I see all the time. People pay good money for expensive venues, food, facilitators, and entertainment only to have the actions never come to life due to the fact that they never clearly articulated, what’s next, who’s doing it, and by when? Instead of 27 page documents outlining every step over the next six months my belief is that we need to clearly articulate the idea and just worry about the next stage, the next step.
The other issue is, it’s never stored in a format or a place where it the can be reviewed on a consistent basis. It needs to sit in a place where those who have committed to action or be involved the idea consider the plan regularly, have it in front of them often, and the progress be openly shared to create momentum.
In your own personal world try to use journal for this reason. Have a dream, write it down, then just work out what’s my next step, prioritise it, and then execute upon it. Your journal keeps it front of mind, safe, and given you always have it with you, you can continually refer back and refine your dreams and plans.
Many many years ago in my youth I loved punk rock. Bands like The Clash, The Damned, The Saints, The Sex Pistols, and The Jam would fill my bedroom as they resonated rebellion from the vinyl disc on the record player. Today, people believe that punk was from an era gone by - however punk was an attitude! An attitude of defiance, rebellion, anti-establishment, and disruption. It’s all the things that make up true innovation in today’s business community.
Unfortunately, as it was back in the early 80s, punk in the business community is often seen as being disruptive, and certainly not valued. Quite often when we have someone disrupt the current systems, processes, beliefs, and go against the chairman or CEO, they’re seen as being the troublemaker, the square peg in a round hole, the person who is not a team player.
My belief is that punk rules, punk is right, and punk is where businesses like AirBnB, Uber, Zappos, and all the other disruptive business models find inspiration. Punk influenced many of today’s musical greats, and in a way it should do the same thing in business - be it your side hustle, start-up, or the new generation of your established organisation.
Embrace the disruptors, entertain their new way of looking at things, hear their alternatives, and don’t be the narrow minded leader stuck in the status quo of today. Be aggressive and embrace the punk of disruption
Recently I was working with a large supermarket brand when one of the workshop participants talked about how social media had changed the landscape of branding. The comment was you have to be prepared to be exposed. What this comment meant, was that extensive due diligence can be undertaken very easily now by your customers or clients via social media. It is very simple for customers or clients to get online and start digging deep into your true DNA, your beliefs, the integrity of your management , staff and your operations, how you spend or allocate money, and who you associate with.
Many companies and charities talk about being totally transparent yet keep valuable information from their customers. They’ll share what they want to share but hold back information that could incriminate, damage or shed an unhealthy light on their operation.
Brands need to appreciate that in this day and age, if you don’t give me a reason to believe everything you’re saying is true, I’ll go looking for it. True authenticity in your brand, your people and the contribution you make to society comes from being honest, upfront and dealing with complete integrity.
The US Marines say that integrity is doing the right thing.…even when no-one is looking! Powerful lesson.
In my job as a keynote speaker I’m fortunate enough to meet with a lot of leaders across all categories of industry. Quite often I’m asked what makes a great leader? I’ve come to appreciate that the great leaders are those who give a damn and that primarily separates them from the rest.
A great leader truly gives a damn about their people, the lives of the people, the challenges those people face, the conditions under which they work, and what’s going on in their world outside of just work. They give a damn about the culture of the organisation, the representation of their brand, how people feel about each other and the company.
Too many leaders are too caught up in their opportunity to be in front of an audience to spruik how good they and/or their company are. They’re so wrapped up in their own little world that they completely forget to give a damn about their people, the company, the brand, the culture and the general vibe of how people feel within their organisation.
I think any leader of any of industry, in any category and of any size should sit with their journal and say do I truly give a damn, and if I do have a way how do I display it? It’s not enough to take the glory that comes with the title of Chairman, CEO, or MD of a company. In a future episode of the Mojo Radio Show our guest is Glenn Capelli, who discusses corporate culture and how it centres on culture and character. To me character starts with truly giving a damn.