Why We Should Be Scared More Often

If you’re not scared a lot you’re not growing very much. Discomfort is a reflection of growth” – writes Robin Sharma.

Conversely, if we want to grow we need to learn to be scared more often, as we seek to escape from our comfort zone.

Of course the limit is survival, but it is true that from time to time, getting a bit scared by going out of one’s comfort zone is a great feeling to seek.

If it is possible to do that is a secure environment, all the better and it is a great occasion to go even further in discomfort: the best training environments push one to the limits of discomfort.

How often do you seek discomfort and scare?


How Original Books Get Remixed with Success By Followers

When I opened the e-book ‘Bootstrapping Complexity‘ by famous Kevin Kelly, I realized that this was actually a remix of a previous book by the author performed by an admiring follower, Andreas Lloyd.

This remix was initiated by the wish of Andreas Lloyd to make some aspects clearer and to focus the book on complexity.

What’s great in this example is the initial author’s reaction: “Soon after putting this remix online , I sent a note with a link to Kevin Kelly to make him aware of the remix , hoping that he would approve. He did approve. Much more than I expected. And it didn’t take him long to reply : I LOVE the remix ! I wish you had been my editor . There is only one thing missing from this fantastic remix – a better title . I was never happen with the book’s title and now that it is more focused , the need is even greater.

In the Collaborative Age, more and more original works will be remixed and made into numerous publications to address specific needs. A great example of ‘mutual learning’ leadership!


How We Need to Define Urgently Personal Behavior Rules Around Smartphones

The provoking title of this Atlantic piece ‘Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?‘ is worth pondering. And the article worth reading too. The theme of the article is “more comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis.”

Modern group social discussion?

The author is a mental health researcher that has noticed an abrupt change in teenager generational behavior around 2012 – the year 50% of the developed country population got a smartphone i.e. where smartphone penetration began to change our habits. “The arrival of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of teenagers’ lives, from the nature of their social interactions to their mental health. These changes have affected young people in every corner of the nation and in every type of household.”

Teenagers socialize physically less and the rate of depression and suicide is going up dramatically. Research shows that more time on the screen and on social networks lead to higher rates of depression and lower happiness.

Like all new tools in our lives, we need to define social rules to live with it. The smartphone and the associated social networks are still too new to have developed and ingrained these behavioral rules. It might become a matter of urgency, still I am optimistic that a reaction will prevail.


How We Should Learn As If We Were to Live Forever

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Mahatma Gandhi

What a great recommendation for our daily priorities. The learning part resonates in particular with me (I am still probably less good at living in the present moment?)

We often underestimate all the learning opportunities that we encounter every day. They are not all formal opportunities of course. There is a lot more to learn around us.

What about making sure that we learn something substantial every day by making sure we benefit from all the opportunities that come to us?


Why We Need to Connect With People to Get More Often Below Superficial

Following up from our post ‘How Everyone you Will Ever Meet Knows Something that You Don’t‘, the issue then becomes how to share this knowledge. How can we be in a position to better exchange knowledge through our daily interactions with people?

coffee connectionThe reality is that 95%+ of our daily interactions with people remain at a too superficial level to figure out what it is they know we don’t know. The issue is then to figure out how to setup those conversations in a way to enrich our experience and their experience.

It all comes down to connecting in the right manner, demonstrating interest to the person, its interests and aspirations. It also come down to a benevolent attitude that does not seek immediate advantage or profit from the relationship.

Of course that takes time so we can’t do that for everyone we meet, but we can certainly do better.

Benevolence is important. I had written first the first sentence of this post “how to benefit from this knowledge”. But the point is not to benefit, but to share!

Let’s try to learn more about the world by connecting better with more people, learning exciting new stuff we did not even know existed and sharing our knowledge too!


What the Benefits of a Deep Conversations Are

Deep conversations are arguably some of the most valuable moments we can spend.

deep-conversationsI love this analysis of conversation from Valeria Maltoni in her post ‘Inventing Options for Mutual Gain‘:

Conversation is not just our ability to verbalize information, it’s also our ability to process information, of becoming aware of what we know, the internal dialogue we have with ourselves and our mind, the interaction between what we think and what we say, but also between what we say and what we do.

Many of the most productive conversations we have lead to an understanding of sorts. In some cases they allow us to connect with one another in a way that leads to solving a problem, advancing a project, and creating opportunity for a next step or action.

Spot on what a great, deep conversation can achieve.

How often do you have deep conversations? Think again. You might want to have more.


How Combining Human and Artificial Intelligence Might Be the Winning Combination

A lot gets written and debated about Artificial Intelligence these days. In that context, the recent report by the US National Science and Technology Council ‘Preparing for the future of Artificial Intelligence‘ is a must read.

the-future-of-aiOne area that has struck me in particular is the reference to exceptional performance of the combination of human and artificial intelligence when is comes to pattern recognition. An example: “In one recent study, given images of lymph node cells, and asked to determine whether or not the cells contained cancer, an AI-based approach had a 7.5 percent error rate, where a human pathologist had a 3.5 percent error rate; a combined approach, using both AI and human input, lowered the error rate to 0.5 percent, representing an 85 percent reduction in error.

It seems increasingly that this combination of two different perspectives, ours and the other one we are creating using Artificial Intelligence, could open us new frontiers. Artificial Intelligence in that sense seems rather a useful tool to broaden our perspectives and capabilities.


How To Create Emotional Connection in a Community

In this great blog post ‘What do people need to feel part of your community?‘, Pamela Slim shares how to create actual emotional connection within a group of people. And she certainly has great experience doing just this.

community connectionHer recipe includes:

  • Feeling safe
  • Feeling seen
  • Feeling heard
  • Feeling honored

One aspect that struck me particularly is her statement “I want to stress that “safe” doesn’t have to imply “always comfortable.” Some of the very best community building involves real discomfort as people explore beliefs and perceptions, challenge assumptions and explore differences.” Actually, I do strongly believe that going together through uncomfortable situations is a great way to create emotional connection – and that’s a ploy commonly used for example, for team-building events.

How do you treat the community you are trying to build? Is there any of these elements missing?


Why You Should Use Powerful Questions More Often

Questions have great power. They can create real shifts in our thinking. It is a tool I use a lot in coaching. Action Learning is a cousin, where problems are being managed by diverse teams of people using questions.

power_questionsRequiring people to think in terms of “questions first” transforms the dynamics of the group. The natural impulse to make statements and judgments gives way to listening and reflecting” writes Michael Marquardt in the book ‘Optimizing the Power of Action Learning’.

In business meetings I observe that people too often proceed with making statements. It would be much more effective to ask questions. The best leaders actually do that, and it is quite easy to identify leadership with the ability to ask questions rather than making statements.

Next time, when you’re about to make a statement, ask yourself whether it would not be better to ask a powerful question instead. It will change the dynamics of the group!


Why Integrating New Experiences in Our Life is an Essential Skill

The ability to process new experiences, to find their meaning and to integrate them into one’s life, is the signature skill of leaders and, indeed, of anyone who finds ways to live fully and well.” —William Bennis

transformationI find this quote very much to the point. What is implied requires two skills:

  • the ability to venture beyond one’s comfort zone and be open to new experiences,
  • and the ability to process this new experience and change oneself

Both can be challenging to people. For example, I do easily venture outside my comfort, but I am not completely sure I take advantage of all this experience to change quickly enough.

In addition, I like the relationship that Warren Bennis makes between the ability to change and leadership. A leader must be able to entice followers to come, she must also be able to recognize the need to change herself. This might not always be easy to do both.

How able do you find yourself going beyond your comfort zone, and to process the experience to change yourself?


How to Improve the Effectiveness of Complex Problem-Solving Teams

We’ve already established in this blog that an effective team is the best way to tackle complexity. There appears to be one additional condition: the team must be complete when it meets to resolve a situation.

problem solving teamAccording to  Michael Marquardt in the book ‘Optimizing the Power of Action Learning’, “Putnam (2000) notes that the most complex problems can be solved only by a group that has developed a strong social bonding. Therefore, it is much better that the group meets fewer times when everyone is present than more times when one or more of the members may be absent

I have observed that when people are missing it certainly influences the effectiveness of the process. This warning also implies that problem-solving teams be of a limited size so as to make it workable.

Increase definitely the effectiveness of complex problem solving by insisting on the attendance of everybody in the problem-solving team!


How to Discover More About People: Play!

Long ago, Plato said: “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”

unhappy tennis player
An unhappy player that expressed his disappointment physically

It is particularly true I find when it comes to the emotional reactions of people who lose, or even simply by observing how much people can get involved in the game.

It is to a point where it is surprising that recruiters haven’t thought to include group games as part of their selection process (some do, but they are rare). It would also allow to observe whether people are team players, or rather seek to demonstrate their own performance. Games and playing are used extensively in teambuilding and leadership development programs though, and that often allows to know people much better!

Want to know people better, quickly? Set up a team game!