A Life Lesson from The Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones is back for its final season this week. This video comes from the beautiful city walls of Ávila, about 100kms to the west of Madrid in Spain.

I used to think that it was enough to be good at your job, and to be nice to people… and money, success and power would come. How wrong I was. The Game of Thrones makes it clear: if you have something of value, someone stronger will take it from you. You must be strong or be protected.

Are you Strong or are you Protected?

Personal Growth: Moving up the 15 Levels of Consciousness, from Dr David Hawkins

I’ve been reading a few books recommended by my readers and youtube watchers since my recent video review of The Surrender Experiment 4 weeks ago.  A wonderful author that I was recommended is Dr David Hawkins.  He was a psychotherapist who worked over 50 years with patients in all stages of conscious functioning.

In this post, I share some of the powerful words that I have taken from David, and then I share his scale from 1-1000 of Consciousness.  Have a look and see where you believe you are on this scale.

Over to Dr David…

If you’re not happy here and now, you will not be happy there and then.

“Like the sun, the inner Self is always shining, but because of negative clouds, we do not experience it. It is not necessary to program oneself with the truth; it is only necessary to remove that which is false. The removal of the clouds from the sky to illuminate the negative allows one to experience the energy fields of that which is positive. It is only the removal of the negative that is necessary-the willingness to let go of the habits of negative thinking. The removal of the obstacles to the experiencing of this will result in an increasing sense of aliveness and a joy of one’s own existence.”

There is a Buddhist story that man starts clean, but as he starts to walk, the dirt from the road sticks to him.  The further he walks the more he is covered by layer upon layer of dirt.  After a short time we can no longer see the man underneath the dirt.  In fact the man himself has forgotten that this surface of dirt is not actually him.  We don’t need to find something new outside us to move up the levels of consciousness…

U2 has a song “Get out of your Own Way”.  What many of us need is to get out of our own way, to stop sabotaging ourselves.

How to Be that Person that People want to Know

“The way to become that exciting person whom people want to know is very easy. We simply picture the kind of person we want to be and surrender all the negative feelings and blocks that prevent us from being that.”

“Write down all your faults. Write down all the faults others think you have, even if you think they’re liars. You take responsibility for it all. If you own it all, nobody has any way to attack you. If others attack you, it’s because you’re not owning something. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with being stupid and ugly. (Laughter). So we admit our faults, and we stop labeling them faults. We have to get over narcissistic sensitivity. All negative reactions are not caused from outside; it’s how we choose. The way to become bulletproof is to own anything that seems a fault. The way to overcome the ego’s reaction to that is to say, “I’m stupid and ugly. It doesn’t matter; God loves me.”

What you resist, persists.

“The willingness to forgive others is reflected in our own capacity for self-forgiveness and acceptance.”

“Surrender is a constant process of not resisting or clinging to the moment but instead, continuously turning it over to God. The attention is thus focused on the process of letting go and not on the content of the ‘what’ that is being surrendered.”

Humility is the greatest virtue.

“With humility one can see that the mind is limited and incapable of seeing all the circumstances surrounding any event. Out of this arises the willingness to let go of condemnation and judgment.”

Personal Growth: The 15 Levels

The Levels of Consciousness (From Apathy to Love)

These levels determine the reason why people behave the way they do.
You can listen to Dr David Hawkins being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey, or watch the video below where he speaks specifically about the Scale of Consciousness:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0zkalAG9c0

 

Below Courage – Conscious States that Suck Energy from the World

  • Guilt 30 – I condemn others. I blame outside forces for my situation. The emotion that accompanies these levels is self-hatred, and the process going on in consciousness is one of self-destruction.
  • Apathy 50 – Abdication of my own capacity to act. I am hopeless.  I cannot change the situation and I don’t believe that anyone else is able to help me.
  • Grief 75 – I am despondent and feel that life is tragic. There is an energy in grief that can turn towards anger and begin action.
  • Fear 100 – A state of anxiety and worry.  A state of withdrawal from the world.  I take actions to protect myself and to resist losing the things that I value.
  • Desire 125 – I crave after things that I believe are missing in my life.  I am quite active in pursuit of my goals.
  • Anger 150 – Anger in the form of resentment may lead to hatred.  But the process going on in consciousness is one of expansion; for example, when an animal is angry, it swells up. When the cat gets angry, its tail swells up to almost twice its normal size, and the cat tries to look imposing. The biological purpose of expansion is to intimidate one’s apparent enemy. The energy of anger can be positive if used to pursue something better, allowing us to move up to the next level.
  • Pride 175 – This level of consciousness leads to a constant defense of my being ‘right’, so others must be wrong.  Highly demanding of myself and of all others around me.  High risk of scorn of others.  The pride relates to an underlying denied set of  fears. 

Above Courage – Conscious States that Contribute Positively

  • Courage 200 – I take ownership of my situation and begin to take tentative steps to make my situation better.
  • Neutrality 250 – The emotion of Neutral is self-trust. For example, it is ‘okay’ if you get the job and ‘okay’ if you don’t.
  • Willingness 310 – saying yes to life, to join, to agree, to commit, and to align with because there is now the introduction of intention.
  • Acceptance 350 – Realising and owning my own limitations. I don’t have to please everybody, I don’t have to be competent at all tasks.
  • Reason 400 – At its purest level, reason and the intellect represent increased reality testing and non-emotional respect for truth.
  • Love 500 – reason is of the mind (the brain), whereas Love is of the being (the heart).
    At its emergence, love is selective and conditional, but as it evolves, it progressively becomes a lifestyle and a way of relating to all life.
  • Joy 540 –  A state of bliss. Life is Perfect. These people make us feel more alive because they are constantly giving out energy to the world.
  • Peace 600 – I need to find someone who could explain this in words!

Thank you to all those watchers and readers who have recommended books, videos and audios after my post on The Surrender Experiment 😉

Freedom is difficult, but be careful of wishing for fences

Be careful what you wish for… In the Zoo, the animals are safe in their cages, they are fed 3 meals a day, the fence keeps out predators and competition (isn’t that what Trump promised?).

We have to be careful what we wish for.

Freedom comes with a price, and that price is called responsibility. We need to practice the responsibility that allows us to deal with true freedom.

From Peter Drucker:

“The Nature of Freedom

Freedom is never a release and always a responsibility.

Freedom is not fun. It is not the same as individual happiness, nor is it security or peace or progress. It is a responsible choice. Freedom is not so much a a right as a duty. Real freedom is not freedom from something; that would be licence. It is freedom to choose between doing or not doing something, to act one way or another, to hold one belief or the opposite, It is not “fun” but the heaviest burden laid on man: to decide his own individual conduct as well as the conduct of society and to be responsible for both decisions.”

If you liked this, you will like reading Freedom is Not Fun.

The United Kingdom’s Greek Tragedy: The downfall of Boris

Yesterday, Boris Johnson was on a triumphal march to the leadership of the UK.  Today, his career lies in ruins.  What happened?

Tragedy is “a form of drama based on human suffering that invokes an accompanying catharsis or pleasure in audiences” (from wikipedia).  The essence of Tragedy is that the hero’s greatest strength will end up being the source of his failure… usually just inches from victory.

Boris Johnson lived through a classic tragedy yesterday.

Boris Johnson

UK politician, Boris Johnson is often described as a buffoon, even by his admirers.   His messy, bumbling, self-deprecating persona has long made him one of the best known politicians through his appearances on TV chat shows.  His greatest strength: a magnetic, charismatic character that allows him to engage all sides of the political spectrum.  

His downfall: he makes so many wonderful promises that there is no way he can keep them all.  His own lieutenant realises that he cannot trust Boris and stabs him in the back.

The Events of the Britannic Tragedy

Is this Game of Thrones?  No, it’s even more gruesome…

The British newspapers today are a better read than the final season 6, episode 10 Game of Thrones storyline (wow, how will Daenerys vs Cersei pan out?).  (Some newspaper headlines: “An Act of Midnight Treachery“, “Gove’s thunderbolt and Johnson’s breaking point“, “Farewell to Boris Johnson the great political wrecker of our generation“, “Gove and Johnson: what happened?” …)

Just 2 weeks ago…  It was all going so well for Boris.

Let’s go back 20 years and cover some history…

1999: Boris was made editor of Spectator magazine, promising Conrad Black, the owner, that he would never enter politics.

Boris enters politics.

2008: Boris was given a leadership role in the conservative party, promising he would not run for London mayor against the central party candidate Nick Boles.

He runs for London mayor.

2016: Boris takes a tactical decision to lead the Brexit campaign in the referendum, giving a plausible front face to a campaign previously made up of bigots and angry white men.  He promises everything to everybody.

Michael Gove promises to support Boris Johnson’s run for leadership.

Boris promises jobs to everyone who supports him.

Michael Gove discovers that 300 people have been promised leading roles in a Boris Johnson leadership team.  There are not 300 leadership roles.  Gove wants some clarity on his future role in the Boris Johnson team.  Boris equivocates…

The morning of Boris Johnson’s accession to the throne of conservative party leadership, Gove turns on him and says he cannot be trusted to lead.

The Danger of the Charismatic Leader

Narcissism is “the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one’s own attributes. The term originated from Greek mythology, where the young Narcissus fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water.” (from wikipedia)

The narcissistic leader is missing any internal compass that guides their action.  They are oriented to personal power.  All decisions are short term opportunistic decisions based on the net increase in power.

It is addictive to follow a narcissistic leader.  They know how to make you feel great when they need you.  They know the words you most want to hear.  They know the promises you want them to make.  They make everything seem clear and simple.

Bonus Quiz: Can you spot any narcissistic leader candidates around the world?  I’m writing a long post called “The Global Rise of Populist Politicians: Why Now?” that will be published here in the next week.

How to Spot a Liar

The charismatic leader does not intend to lie.  In the moment that they make the promise they really mean to keep it.  The problem is that they mean the promise because they see it pleases you.  The moment someone else is with them, they will make a promise that pleases them.  They will accumulate promise after promise, pleasing person after person… until they have made so many promises that they have to break some of them.

Be careful of people pleasers.  They are better at pleasing people than at staying the course on a long and challenging voyage.

Be Careful of Simple Answers

The world is not clear and simple.  The problems of the world are complex and connected.  No simple solution will give us back the imagined great past that has been taken away from us.  It is not the immigrants who have made anyone poorer, it is that you cannot do the same work for the same rewards forever.

We must be wary of simple answers to complex, global problems.  We must be wary of charismatic personalities that are willing to say whatever is needed to be said in order to gain power.

The only proof of future performance is past performance.  How has this person behaved in the past.  Words are cheap.  Only actions show the true colours of a person.

Be careful of words.

Look at actions.

The Future is Not So Bad for the Tories

While the future is pretty bleak for the individuals, this tragedy has brought the Tory party together.

After all of the leadership bloodletting we now have 5 candidates who espouse the same 3 priorities for the future:  Brexit + Social Justice + Capitalism.

Maybe it takes an individual tragedy to bring an organisation together?

 

 

The #1 Most Important Tool in Negotiation

There is a power tool in negotiation.  I would say this is the single most useful tactic that I use in my years of selling (I sell private jets among other high value products).

It is not competitive, it is not aggressive, it is not avoiding anything.

It does not require massive intellectual development, years of training or genetic gifts.

It requires no study, no poetic ability nor any magical secret ingredients.

It is …

 

Silence.

Silence.

Me: “What is your best price?”

Supplier: “Blah, blah [Product feature #2], blah… I can offer you €100”

Me: “Hmmm.” and wait…  10…  20 seconds…  (tension increasing)

Supplier: “Ok, I can give you €90…  but that is our best price”

Me:  “Hmmm.”  and wait…  10… 20 seconds… (tension increasing)

… and on…

70% of Organisational Change Efforts Fail. 8 Steps for Leading Change.

Photo Credit: John of Dublin via Compfight cc

70% of organisation change efforts fail.

John Kotter has an 8 step process that can reduce the likelihood that your project of organisational change (and all leadership projects mean some form of change the the existing status quo).

A big source of failure is starting action before you have put together a solid base of support and understanding before acting.

The 8-Step Process for Leading Change

  1. Establishing a Sense of Urgency – Help others see the need for change and they will be convinced of the importance of acting immediately.
  2. Creating the Guiding Coalition – Assemble a group with enough power to lead the change effort, and encourage the group to work as a team.
  3. Developing a Change Vision – Create a vision to help direct the change effort, and develop strategies for achieving that vision.
  4. Communicating the Vision for Buy-in – Make sure as many as possible understand and accept the vision and the strategy.
  5. Empowering Broad-based Action – Remove obstacles to change, change systems or structures that seriously undermine the vision, and encourage risk-taking and nontraditional ideas, activities, and actions.
  6. Generating Short-term Wins – Plan for achievements that can easily be made visible, follow-through with those achievements and recognize and reward employees who were involved.
  7. Never Letting Up – Use increased credibility to change systems, structures, and policies that don’t fit the vision, also hire, promote, and develop employees who can implement the vision, and finally reinvigorate the process with new projects, themes, and change agents.
  8. Incorporating Changes into the Culture – Articulate the connections between the new behaviors and organizational success, and develop the means to ensure leadership development and succession.

There is an excellent resource that goes into more detail for each stage at John Kotter’s website.

Sun-Tzu’s 5 Factors for Victory and 5 Attributes of a Leader

I just watched Thomas Hyunh speak about his lifetime obsession with Sun-Tzu, the 2,500 year old Chinese General, at Authors@Google (video at the bottom of this post).   Sun-Tzu was only 30 years old when he led the smallest region of China to victory over the largest region.  This victory made him famous, and made his book “The Art of War” into the widely read book that it has become.

What makes Sun-Tzu’s Art of War relevant to us today?  Conflict is part of our lives.  Personal relations, company market share battles, political struggle – how can we approach these challenges in an effective manner?

Whether it is military conflict or politics within an organisation, Sun-Tzu’s guidelines are relevant.

Photo from Wikimedia

Sun-Tzu In a Nutshell

  1. Control yourself.  Thus you can influence others.
  2. Adapt to your environment.  It accentuates your strengths and ameliorates your weakness.
  3. Never sell out your principles. “The general who does not advance to seek glory or does not withdraw to avoid punishment, but cares for only the people’s security and promotes the people’s interest is the nation’s treasure”

“Before doing battle, in the temple one calculates and will win” Sun-Tzu

#1 Principle: Control Yourself

Number 1 is Control Yourself.  Sun-Tzu is very deliberate about his guidelines of separating out Ego and Emotion from decision making.   Thomas quotes him in his talk “Before doing battle, in the temple one calculates and will win” – take decisions away from field of combat.  As in combat, so in life.  Life decisions taken under high emotion or driven by ego desire are dangerous.  They need reflection in the light of a meditative peaceful pose.

“Those angry will be happy again, and those wrathful will be cheerful again, but a destroyed nation cannot be brought back to life” Sun-Tzu.   Strong emotions will go away, but actions can never be undone.   Battle that is driven by revenge, by anger, by frustration is not good battle.  Personal conflict that is driven by anger, revenge is not good for either party.

The 5 attributes of a Great General (Leader)

Sun-Tzu

  • Wisdom
  • Credibility
  • Benevolence
  • Courage
  • Discipline

The 5 Factors for Victory

  • Way – Your personal connection to other people
  • Heaven – Environment outside your control
  • Ground – Environment under your control
  • General – Ability and Attitude
  • Law – Discipline and Commitment

Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osQ2bLUd0UA&list=TLp3MFP1RQA6E

The Real Reason Why Audiences Love Reality TV

I was watching the UK version of the TV show “The Apprentice” a few months ago.  This particular week’s challenge was to sell caravan and camping equipment at a trade show.

Early on, there was a key decision to make: Which model of caravan would the team try to sell?

Now, this was a trade show where the typical attendee was 60 years old and the teams had this information.  This was not a show directed to young people, nor was it an audience that would be represented by the word “innovative”.  This was people looking for solid, reliable caravans.

The contestants on BBC’s The Apprentice show

The team lead, lets call him Joe, asked for advice from one of his team members, who I will call Tom.  Now, Joe has already agreed with the rest of the team that they should choose a proven, well-priced model…

Joe: “So, Tom, what do you think? Should we go for the hip, modern campervan or the older, proven model?”

Tom: “I think we should go for the modern one.”  (I am surprised at this advice)

Joe: “Really?  I like it a lot more…  but… are you sure it is right for this market?”

Tom: “I think we can manage it.”

Joe: “Right, ok…  I’ll go with your advice.”

Skip forward to the end of the week…  Joe is in the boardroom defending why his team did so incredibly poorly.  It was clearly because he chose a caravan that would be impossible to sell to the actual audience of the trade show.

Tom was playing the game supremely.  He was being friendly to Joe and acting the part of a loyal team member, whilst really setting Joe up for a fall.

We see the Manipulators for what they are

In real life this happens all the time, but it is very hard to see – because the manipulators like Tom are very good at the act, and we only see how they deal with us.  We don’t see or hear what they are saying to others behind our backs.

Modern western society forces a dilemma onto its citizens: How do I maintain a good balance between good, long-term, trusting relationships and individual achievement.  The achievement often has to come by me winning and another person losing.

Machiavelli first put down the principles of individual achievement over trusted relationships back in 1500s in his book The Prince.

TV Series such as The Apprentice, Survivor and Big Brother are exquisitely designed and edited to open a clear window for the viewers into the scheming, manipulative words and actions of the competitors.  They can often go for weeks believing that Tom is a wonderful friend in the house, whilst the audience has known for weeks that Tom is playing the true friend to several others and manipulating the whole house.

It is addictive watching.

I think it is addictive, because deep down we all know the game.

4 Great Posts on Communication and Leadership

How to Give a Killer Presentation

Chris Anderson, Owner of TED
Presentations rise or fall on the quality of the idea, the narrative, and the passion of the speaker. It’s about substance, not speaking style or multimedia pyrotechnics. It’s fairly easy to “coach out” the problems in a talk, but there’s no way to “coach in” the basic story—the presenter has to have the raw material. If you have something to say, you can build a great talk. But if the central theme isn’t there, you’re better off not speaking. Decline the invitation. Go back to work, and wait until you have a compelling idea that’s really worth sharing.  Read More

 

The Inconvienient Truth about Change Management –

McKinsey & Company
Conventional change management approaches have done little to change the fact that most change  programs fail. The odds can be greatly improved by a number of counterintuitive insights that take into account the irrational but predictable nature of how employees interpret their environment and choose to act.  Read More

 

11 Simple Concepts to Become a Better Leader

Dave Kerpen
All 11 concepts are simple, and yet, perhaps in the name of revenues or the bottom line, we often lose sight of the simple things – things that not only make us human, but can actually help us become more successful. Read More

 

5 Models for Leading Change

Tristan Wember
In this article we introduce five models for leading change. No single model isright. However, they all have something valuable on offer and can help us to navigate our way through complex organisational situations or circumstances.  Read More