Challenge Assumptions

6 vs 9

Psychologist Jonah Lehrer noted, “When the brain is exposed to anything random, like a slot machine or the shape of a cloud, it automatically imposes a pattern onto the noise.” Thomas Gilovich agreed, “Nature abhors a vacuum. People spot patterns where only the vagaries of chance are operating.” That’s what pattern recognition is for, although often the brain’s motto is, ‘Close enough is good enough.’ Chabris and Simons agree that our minds are built to detect meaning in patterns, to infer causal relationships from coincidences and to believe that earlier events cause later ones.

In his article ‘Becoming Famous Overnight’, Larry Jacoby wrote of his research into memory illusions caused by this cognitive convenience. Remember, cognitive processing is hard work and anything the brain can do to ease that strain, it’ll try doing. Participants were shown some names of people, including David Stenbill. Sometime later, and in a supposedly unrelated activity, they were shown a list of names and asked to tick those that were celebrities. David Stenbill, despite being fictitious and not in a celebrity way, was ticked more often than not. If they thought about Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, or Margaret Thatcher, they could probably find a few facts in their memory about them and why they were celebrities. There’s no genuine way they could do that for David Stenbill. All they’d have was a sense of familiarity. And for people, that’s all we need. Words, and anything else we’ve seen before, become easier to see again. And it’s not just seeing; it’s any kind of experience.

If years ago you had a conflict-ridden relationship with an employee named Toby and tomorrow you’re being assigned a new employee whose name also happens to be Toby, that’s not going to affect your impressions of Toby II, is it? Maybe you should give him a nickname as soon as possible?

Psychologist Robert Zajonc did a study on whether old married couples start to look like each other. This section is not about that study but it is quite interesting. It was suggested that, given the empathy couples must have shown each other over the years, much of which is conveyed through facial expressions, they develop similar wrinkle patterns. Be sure and mention this the next time you’re at Gran and Pop’s place.

The other Zajonc study I’m looking at here is on the mere exposure effect and links nicely with Jacoby’s familiarity work. He ran newspaper advertisements on the front pages of two Michigan universities using five made-up words:


Word Times Used
kadirga 1
saricik 2
biwonjni 5
nansoma 10
iktitaf 25

He then surveyed the student population with a simple question: Were each of these words bad or good? The words used more often were considered good more often. He replicated the study using symbols, shapes, and faces with the same result. Familiar was perceived as good. Familiar is safe. Zajonc suggests this may be a result of evolution as the survival prospects were poor for animals not suspicious of novelty. New things could eat you. Maybe the anti-change person you’re leading isn’t being bloody-minded? Maybe they’re being safety conscious?

A downside of familiarity is the illusion of representativeness and how that bias impacts our thinking. We expect a librarian to look like one. The regression fallacy is where we sometimes choose to believe that non-typical results will continue. Over time, results regress to the mean. A workplace example might be when a slightly below-average performer performs especially poorly. You respond by yelling at them. Their next performance is better therefore you assume that yelling at them improved their performance. Far more likely is that their performance regressed to the mean. Golfers, you know what I’m talking about.

[An excerpt from my book ‘The Brain-Based Boss: Adding serious value through employee engagement’ ]


I’m trialling a self-directed course I’ve developed on personal effectiveness. One of the ten lessons within it is on critical thinking, an essential element of which is challenging assumptions. You get all five of my books (in eBook format) when you sign up. If that sounds of interest, you can learn more at .

All 5 3D

#onlinelearning #onlinetraining #personaleffectiveness #criticalthinking

Expert trainer / coach / speaker. Interactively online or in-person. Fast-track your personal & professional effectiveness or leadership development with practical business tools and thought leadership.

What Resilience Needs Do You Observe?


Hi team. Pick your brain for a moment?

I’m teaming up with a project developing a series of short-burst online self-directed training. The sort of thing time-scarce but highly self-motivated people in the workplace can turn to where and when they need it for practical solutions to real-world problems. It won’t be ‘micro’. It’ll be substantive but not a scheduling nightmare. They can check in and out as they need.

Unsurprisingly, we’re starting with the topic of resilience – bouncing back better. That is a broad topic and we need to slice it up. We have our views and we’re certainly checking with our clients and target market. I thought I’d also check out the wisdom of crowds ie y’all.

Within resilience, what issues do you think people face:

– first,

– most?

Any and all suggestions appreciated via Remain awesome!

virtualcoaching onlinetraining resilience

What To Do With An Employee Nicknamed ‘Sleepy’? (Five Tips For Encouraging Self-Motivation).

motivating icons

Employers are starting to catch on to the research that shows that having a predominantly engaged workforce can double a company’s return on assets and contribute to a 36% increase in sales revenue. It varies a little bit over time, depending on your country, industry and a few other variables but the evidence says that it’s worth the effort.

It’s not even as if the engaged are mythological superstars. The generally accepted definition of engagement is merely applying discretionary effort – simply choosing to do more than you have to.

The engagement conversation is overly focused on the top and the bottom – how to attract and retain the transient talent who are truly actively and impressively engaged whilst preventing or discarding those who have become cancerously actively disengaged. Both are lots of work and risk. Not enough of the conversation is about the bulk of the people, the quiet middle. Fifty to sixty percent of employees show up and do what they have to and no more. They show up, maintain a pulse, consume oxygen and tick their performance boxes. This is the area where leaders amongst employers can make the greatest gains, the biggest bang for their bucks. But how?

I delivered a presentation recently to a group of successful dairy farmers. This whole engagement potential issue was summarised simply and effectively with one question to me from one of the farmers, “What do I do with an employee nicknamed ‘Sleepy’?”

Sleepy did what he had to but he possessed untapped potential. The farmer could see this and was frustrated at how Sleepy wouldn’t tap into it. Sure, the farmer would love to have greater productivity for the same wages but his frustration was borne out of a want for Sleepy to achieve more personally. Maybe you’ve got a Sleepy? Maybe you’ve got lots of Sleepies? Maybe you are a Sleepy? What can you do?

1. Ask what they think.

Big organisations with HR departments and money sloshing around can conduct surveys and commission consultants. Sometimes it’s easier, smarter, quicker and more accurate to ask a few direct questions of the affected person. Even if no answers are forthcoming, the very fact that you asked is a positive influence.

2. Leverage social conformity.

Websites selling movies and books know their best marketing tool is the recommendations of others just like us. The same is true of career paths and discretionary effort. Find people like Sleepy who have chosen a better path and present them, or their stories, as models.

3. Create an autonomy supportive environment.

Dairy workers might not have a great deal of choice in what they do. (The cows seem to be in charge much of the time.) But, as the boss, what can you do to diminish any sense of powerlessness? Could there be discretion in how, when and with who the work gets done?

4. Map out a path to increased mastery.

An ever-upwardly developing balance between skill and challenge is a fundamental need of the human mind. The alternative is boredom, apathy and that is the devil’s cakemix. How can you provide some, but not too much, incremental challenge and skill development for Sleepy, even if it is seemingly beyond their current role?

5. Connect to their future selves.

Studies using clever computer-generated imagery show that people will save more for their retirement when an older version of themselves advise them to. A powerful influencer to give up smoking is to be there for your grandkids. If, like Sleepy’s boss, you can get them not just thinking about but feeling beyond tomorrow, you can nudge them towards doing more than they have to today. The way to do that is by asking them and providing examples of others, like them, who have gone on to great things.

Ultimately there is no one-right-way to deal with employees like Sleepy. It depends and, no doubt, some trial and error will be needed. As you’re giving these tips a try, just console yourself that dealing with a Sleepy is preferable to dealing with a Dopey or a Grumpy.

We’re all in this together?: Social leverage, projection and ‘loafing’​

pushing car in mud

How are people behaving right now? How are your people behaving? How are you behaving? I remember my first trip to a supermarket during the lockdown. It was clearly abnormally busy but people were behaving chill. I don’t know how they were feeling or what they were thinking but they were behaving chill. This contrasts with scenes in the media and online of non-chill behaviour in supermarkets at this time. Why? I think it was the behaviour being modeled by the well-led staff. This might be their first pandemic rodeo but it was day 6 of their first pandemic rodeo, and they’ve learned what to display and not display. And, at the top of the heap of what not to display is uncertainty and ambiguity.

Doctor Nicholas Christaki of the Harvard Medical School concluded that we are 171 percent more likely to gain weight if our closest friends do. We don’t even have to be geographically close, just emotionally close. He describes this as “an emotional contagion”.

Sunstein and Thaler write about a study conducted in restaurants measuring how much individuals eat when in groups of different sizes:

Group Size – Impact On Average Individual Consumption

2 +35%

4 +75%

7+ +96%

Slow down people; it is not a contest. Think about this aspect of human behaviour in a potential panic-buying context. Think about the illogic of toilet paper hoarding.

Solomon Asch back in the 1950s conducted some classic trials on conformity. It was a series where everyone was in on it except the actual participant. People were put into groups of five to seven people. All but one of the group were confederates of the researcher. The group was shown a card with a line on it, then another card with three lines on it of differing lengths. Everyone was then asked which line matched the length of the line on the first card. They had three rounds of this activity. In the first two rounds, all the confederates gave the correct (and quite obvious) answer, as did the subject. In the third round, the confederates, as scripted, gave an obviously incorrect answer. 37 percent of the subjects gave the wrong answer, agreeing with the blatantly wrong confederates of the researcher. This compared to a control group of people where the wrong answer was given 1 percent of the time.

Online retailers will tell you that other people who bought what you just bought, also bought these other three items. People just like you. The movie website IMDB and others will let you rate movies and based on your assessments, recommend other movies to you based on the ratings of people just like you.

The flipside of social proof is social projection, where what’s going on in your world distorts your view of the world outside. People who are having relationship problems notice evidence (or think they do) of discord in everyone else’s relationships.

As long as I’m talking flipsides, let’s look at a downside – social loafing. Have you ever been peer pressured into a tug-of-war contest at a company picnic or school fair? You must have helped someone shift house at some point. Maybe it took two or three people to carry the big fridge or couch? Or push a broken-down car? Did you get the feeling that maybe not everyone was giving it their maximum effort? That’s social loafing in action. (Um, inaction.) OK, now think about those people who aren’t physically distancing themselves etc during the pandemic. They’ll reap benefits, possibly take credit but didn’t actually help much, or possibly hindered or harmed the collective effort and goal. You’re very unlikely to be leading a country but you do lead or influence some people. What are you doing to manage, motivate and mitigate the potential for social loafing in your sphere of influence?

* Extracted and adapted from my book ‘The Brain-Based Boss’, available for free as an eBook (readable on any browser) during this period at terrywilliamsbooks dot com.

Remote Engagement Showcase

teamup events showcase pic

I’m very excited to partner with TeamUpEventsNZ to launch the Remote Engagement Showcase on the 21st of May (10:30am NZ-time). Discussing the unique challenges of managing a remote workforce and how to best navigate and adapt to the new norm of remote working environments, this is one virtual event you will not want to miss! For more information or to register:

virtualevent register showcase teamupevents engagement remotework remoteteams

How’s your energy after online meetings?

asleep at computer

Do you feel more tired after an online meeting than after meetings in real life? Why? And, what can you practically do about it?

There are plenty of posts with advice about the tech or techniques of running online meetings. In this post, I want to focus on ENERGY. (You remember that, right?)

Why are online meetings more tiring, particularly more mentally exhausting?

  1. NOVELTY: It’s new for most. Brains put their foot on the gas for novelty. In our cave-dwelling times, new things could eat us or be eaten by us.
  2. VARIATION: The apps and set-ups are different. What worked last time mightn’t this time. Brains are attuned to this risk even if it works fine.
  3. DISTRACTION: People’s virtual backgrounds might add value. Many do not and are, at best, a toy. A participant with no ears or pixelated hair diminishes their message and makes listeners’ brains do more heavy lifting. There are also other distractions from other work-from-home lockdown participants like partners, kids, pets, chores.
  4. SENSORY FEEDBACK VACUUM: Again from our cave-dwelling days, brains are always assessing the people with whom we interact – words, tone of voice, body language. Even in HD, the virtual meeting rooms leave out many of those signals or mess them up with noise. Nevertheless, they are an essential service for our brains and brains will actively seek them out. When they’re not there, that activity gets more frantic & consumes more energy.
  5. FACTUAL FEEDBACK DISCONNECT: Time is limited, others are tired too. Brains strongly dislike incomplete information loops. The Zeigarnik Effect notes that these incomplete loops help our task memory as it compels us not to leave things unfinished but if they cannot be finished because the meeting ended, the brain keeps on looping on repeat.

This energy problem has an ENERGY solution:

E – Eat snacks that support a balanced GI level throughout the day. You already know this. Google for ideas (maybe during a boring online meeting?)

N – Normalise check-ins. Allow people to express their distractions in advance, not apologetically but matter-of-factly. Most of us are in the same boat.

E – Enquire about people’s feelings about the facts. Google DeBono’s 6 thinking hats as a technique (maybe during a boring online meeting?) Connection and reconnection are vital and don’t have to eat up a lot of time if done in a structured and managed way.

R – Relax. I know telling someone to relax is the 180 opposite of getting someone to relax, even with yourself, so forget the telling and do the DOING. Be aware of yourself becoming overly tense and DO some stretching and breathing techniques you’ve googled during a previous boring online meeting.

G – Get used to the tech varieties. Set up practices with friends and colleagues. Plug n play n practise.

Y – You have to take responsibility for closing your own loops. Keep a note of your questions / concerns and speak up if they’re not addressed.

Post-lockdown and even post-pandemic, online meetings will have a new emphasis in our business dealings and relationship support. Now’s the time to work on this while people are mostly in the same boat and still pretty forgiving. That largesse will diminish in the months ahead and you don’t want to be left behind. There is not yet an app that allows you to plug yourself into a charger like you plug in your phone but I bet you check your phone’s energy level and address that before it runs out. Treat yourself with at least as much respect as you treat your phone.

Do You Care What Your Doctor Wears?


Does what you wear and how you look impact your customer’s perception of your credibility? (Spoiler: It shouldn’t but it does). Do you care what your doctor wears? I asked this question on LinkedIn yesterday. A bunch of folks said, “No, I don’t care as long as they’re competent, they get me better, and they actually display some compassion, then I don’t care what they wear”.

I believe those people believe what they’re saying and it makes sense. That sounds like the sort of thing we think we should say.
A study out of the University of Michigan found that you can say what you like but our perception of our medical providers is actually impacted by what they wear. I should probably stress at this point that I’m talking about normal times obviously. Right now during a pandemic we are very keen for them to be fully kitted out in PPE – the gowns, the masks, that gloves, the whole shebang. But, in general terms, just bowling along to your local GP or medical center, does it matter if they show up wearing a suit and tie, white coat stethoscope around the neck, the sort of things we might expect if we asked a child to draw a doctor.
Well, the research found that it does depend. Older folk we’re actually more concerned that their doctors should look like that they expect them to look – the full kit, whereas younger people not so much. These are sweeping generalizations. It depends on a bunch of factors. It also matters. Regardless of what my LinkedIn folks said they thought they thought, much of our actual behaviour is driven by unconscious bias. People who perceived their advisors as more credible were much more likely to follow their advice or do their homework. Which, with doctors is massively important. Try googling to see what percentage of post-op patients actually follow their meds, behaviour-change advice, etc. It’s horrifyingly low.
I was working with some medical folks the other day and they were wondering about this topic of appearance credibility because this is a debate they have going on.
My responses:
  • build a relationship with your clients,
  • ask them mix it up and see what works
  • you’ve got multiple people dress them in multiple ways see which gets the best responses in terms of your customer satisfaction surveys or general feedback
So, don’t let one-size-fits-all and this is true of not only what you wear but how you act.

20/20 Foresight


As a kid, I had a hobby following pop music charts. Being young, broke and in pre-internet New Zealand, it was hard yards tracking down sources like magazines, newsletters, and radio shows. One weekly highlight for me across crackly radio stations from towns nowhere near my own was Casey Kasem’s American Top 40. It was common practice in those days in New Zealand to marvel at the pop culture in the US and UK from many miles away and seemingly a couple of years behind. FM radio here was yet to exist and outside of the big towns, you were as likely on radio to hear a buy, sell and exchange community noticeboard as you were a new wave song. I did not live in a big town.

Music is inherently subjective. What is good or bad? That wasn’t why I listened. I listened for the numbers, the trends, to be connected to what I thought was going on where things went on, because nothing was going on where I was. If there was a coming of age movie based on my life, the soundtrack would focus in on 1979 to 1985.

In 2019, thanks to the internet, I discovered some FaceBook groups of people who were WAAAAY more into the show than I was and it’s entertaining for me now to check in on the mega-train-spotting types who have memorised every Hot 100 song every week for decades and can spout it all from memory via cryptic quizzes (and they do). I guess all hobby groups have their zealots.

There are all sorts of background politics about the show and its broadcast, ownership, formatting, programming, etc. It seems the halcyon days were 1970 to 1988. Many of those shows are now re-broadcast on nostalgia radio stations around the world and there is at least one IHEARTRADIO station that plays on shuffle random shows from that period all day every day. If I’m running or gymming or working on my property, my ears will be plugged into either podcasts,  or that station. Partly it’s nostalgia for my coming of age flashbacks for my own time of 1979 to 1985. Increasingly, it’s a curiosity for the 1970-1978 period where I’m aware of many classic hits from that period but they’re not the soundtrack of my life. I’m logically aware of peak BeeGees or early Bowie but it’s academic to me not personal.

This post is about revisiting contemporaneous expression. I know the Vietnam War and Watergate happened but I wasn’t there nor was I old enough to be fully engaged in the news about those events. I find it fascinating to listen to a top 40 show where Casey introduces a new song from a new act – for example, Elton John. In that moment in 1970, Elton is just some new act, no more or less than the one-hit-wonder one notch higher on that chart. Because I know what happens, re-listening makes it a different experience with a form of dramatic irony. Conversely, Casey had a habit of telling motivational stories about new artists with a promising future who just quit their day job once their first hit made the chart. I know they never have another hit. 😦

Outside of pop charts, news, and history, it’s useful for us to revisit our own past contemporaneous expression and that of people we let influence us. Every expert who genuinely predicted something in a blog post two years ago will point that out and cite the reference. What they won’t point out are the dozens of predictions they made that were simply nonsense. So, many countries, cities, and companies made decisions based on business-case studies and cost-benefit analyses. Who goes back and re-visits the prognostications in those for accuracy?

Quite apart from any specific lessons I learn from looking back on my mistakes from the past or my public declarations that didn’t pass the passage of time, I hope it reminds me to hold my breath, count to ten and think seriously whether what I’m about to say is worth saying. Our right to have an opinion is critical. The value of our specific opinion is far less so.

Vaccinate Yourself Against Uncertainty, Change & Risk: How to work out your ‘change muscles’​, get ‘change-fit’​, & develop ‘rebellious resilience’​.

How ready were you? How ready were the people you lead? How ready were the people you love?

Everyone (and by ‘everyone’, I mean ‘everyone’) has been thrust into a chaotic, scary and unpredictable state by the actual pandemic, the threat of the pandemic, the economic impact of the pandemic, and the uncertainty and tougher times ahead phasing out of the pandemic. Some say, “Unprecedented”. Some say, “No one could have predicted this”. Neither you nor I are in charge of leading the globe or society but we do each have responsibility for bits of it: yourself, the people you lead, and the people you love.

It would have been perceived as Chicken Little sky-is-falling quackery for you, even two months ago, to have started a team meeting or family dinner with, “So, what are we all doing to prepare for the global zombie apocalypse”? I certainly wasn’t. But, two months ago or two years ago, it would have been prudent and reasonable to prepare for something. Not something unfathomable like what is happening now internationally but something on the individual or local level. Something that occurs that will thrust us into change, uncertainty, risk, etc. Something we didn’t choose but something that just happens. These somethings occurred all the time and will continue to do now, job loss, heart attack, relationship breakdown or breakup. So many people right now are being forced to adapt and there will be varying degrees of success. They would be better prepared now had they proactively practised dealing with change, risk, and uncertainty on their own terms and timetable.

Uncertainty is a metaphorical virus and the future will continue to present us with additional uncertainties, changes and risks. The best we humans have to combat viruses is vaccines and the vaccine mindset is the way to innoculate yourself against future change, risk and uncertainty. Deliberately exposing yourself to small-scale uncertain situations of your choosing develops your ability, if you do it wisely, to cope with future situations that are not small and are not of your choosing. We need to test ourselves so we’re ready when life tests us later. This isn’t about leaping out of planes or climbing mountains. It’s about getting one foot out of your comfort zone, keeping one inside your comfort zone, so it’s scary but not terrifying. You get minor exposure but keep your logical brain working so you can actually learn from the experience. Repeat. You’ll notice that that comfort zone is a little bigger now.

This needs to be a lifelong habit of continual micro-challenge and personal continuous improvement. I appreciate that, right now, we don’t have a time machine and you can’t go back two years and start this habit of deliberate practice of uncertainty inoculation in anticipation of the current crisis. Nope, but you can look ahead and start now. It’s that old saying, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the 2nd best time is right now.

I first delivered my presentation ‘2 Dangerous Things A Year’ in February 2018. Since then and up to COVID19, I’d delivered it dozens of times to thousands of people. The message, and my mission, was to encourage and upskill ordinary people, teams, and families to prepare for the inevitable tests that life would throw at them. It was extremely encouraging to have people contact me to say how’d they done their ‘dangerous’ things and broadened their ability to handle change, risk and uncertainty. That presentation became a book and I want to give away the highlights of that to you in the rest of this article. The book is free until the end of NZ lockdown at

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Let’s start by addressing the consequences of not starting early in dealing with your change and uncertainty skills. I call this ‘Behavioral Physics’. There’s a law in literal physics: Newton’s 3rd law of motion – an object in motion will continue as it is unless affected by an outside force (like gravity). People are a bit like that rock floating through space. Many of us will simply continue to behave as we always have until we’re slapped in the face by a major life event beyond our control – that job loss, heart attack, relationship breakdown, etc. Let’s represent the consequences of that in visual metaphor:

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The smart thing to do once we’re aware of what’s happening is to take charge of change and initiate it on our terms and timetable. That requires a small amount of energy with a small amount of drama, and results in no damage. A ‘nudge’, if you like.

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But, most people wait and wait and only act when they’re forced to. A lot of energy is required, much drama is generated, and there is damage if not an irreparable catastrophe.

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Nudges don’t work if you wait. The secret ingredients that magnifies the effectiveness of little nudges are time and repetition. We might call this practice. (Believe me, if LinkedIn articles supported animated images, I would have the above graphic include an explosion..)

You’ve probably completed many personality profiling tools or behavioral assessments over your life and career. They’re neat and, if used wisely, can open up your self-awareness and a pathway to better skills, relationships, and results. I have some critiques of how they’re sometimes applied but my key takeaway from the concept is that people are different. One way in which they’re different is how keen they are to throw themselves out of planes. In my presentation, I direct participants to an online survey at amIdangerous dot com. Here, after 30 quick questions, you get a score indicating where you likely lie on the sensation seeking scale and what I refer to as the ‘Change Evolution Path’. I use physical fitness as an analogy. At the lower end, we have ‘change sloths’. At the upper end, we have the ‘change-fit’.

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Obviously, it’s over-simplified but it’s a simple way to capture and simply communicate that:

a). people have different natural predispositions when it comes to feelings and actions around risk, change, and uncertainty, and

b). it’s not like height. We can choose to do something about it.

My advice for change sloths is to find or create low-risk, low-consequence opportunities to practice being uncertain and uncomfortable. For change sloths, that bar is pretty low. It might be going to a different supermarket, or initiating a conversation with a stranger while queueing for coffee, or driving a different route to work. It will feel weird, awkward and unnatural but, with practice, it gets easier and better. But, like working out at a gym, people give up because the hard work is definite and right now whereas the beneficial outcomes are not guaranteed and in the future.

So to bridge the gap between change strain and regular change workouts, I developed a model called ‘Danger DNA’ – 8 things you can do to promote the success and habitualisation of your proactive practice of deliberately exposing yourself to the non-routine and unexpected.

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Create dissonance – On a single page, create two columns. In the left column, write down how things are for you right now with your current beliefs, actions, and results. In the right column, write down how you need things to be in a year. What we’re trying to create here is a strong sense of dissatisfaction with the status quo and give your brain an itch that only proactive changes will scratch.

Describing vivid specifics takes that right-hand column with your description of your desired future state and brings it to life. Sketch a mindmap or create a vision board with as much emotive and multisensory language and imagery as you can muster.

Identifying supporters is about exactly what you think it is. To get back to our gym metaphor, these people are your spotters. They’re not mere cheerleaders on the sidelines. For you to develop self-reliant change muscles, you need to get to the edge of your ability and tolerance. That will require buddies. Find them and form a 2-way social contract of mutual support, safety, and provocation.

Gather resources is about reading, research, and questions. Find others who are ahead of you on their paths and pick their brains, directly if you can. THis internet thing is remarkably useful for that if you’ve got a good BS-filter.

Place WIIFM reminders is about keeping strong, emotional and visual reminders in front of your eyes and mind to remind you of what’s in it for you – the WHY. And, this doesn’t have to be selfish. Sometimes, the WIIFM is what’s in it for your people. Anyone can act motivated and handle bumps on a good day. You need your WIIFMs on the not-good days.

Quick wins and display progress are about creating momentum. A marathon is, well, um, a marathon. You don’t crack one of those out of the box. Chart your goals and incremental progress, celebrating milestones of note. For some, it’s the first 5k. For some, it’s the lamp post on the closest street corner.

Burn the boats is about not having a plan B. You’ll always have a doubt about your ability to move forward if there’s always a move backwards. If you’re genuinely going to commit to a change, make forwards the only option you have.

I started this loooong article with the COVID19 lockdown – an outside force over which we have no control and little choice, where we are being forced to adapt. And, adapt we must because the alternative is, well, you know the saying. I’ll finish this loooong article with a hopeful tilt to the future. Hey, it’s terrible and I’m not sugarcoating it but we each have to get something out of this. There hopefully won’t be world wars or pandemics again for ages, or at all, but there’ll be those lesser somethings that will happen and will throw you for a loop. If you want your team or your kids to have a skill that’ll set them up for a better life, traditional resilience isn’t enough. Resilience means bouncing back from adversity to how you were before. You and your people need better than that. You need to bounce back better than before and that means learning from the experience, and permanently extending that comfort zone. You need ‘rebellious resilience‘, to deliberately alter your ‘danger DNA’, and choose to move you and your people along the change evolution path. To work out your change muscles, get change-fit, to test yourself now so you’re ready when life tests you again later.

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Learn more at



Is Your Team A ‘High-Trust Environment’?


Among all the new phrases we’re getting right now like ‘social distancing’ and ‘self-isolation’ is ‘high-trust environment’. The Govt uses it about an unenforced lockdown and wage subsidies to employers that are supposed to be passed on to employees. There is a need for speed, and a cost to enforcement, so who am I to argue? Clearly, not everyone can be trusted but (hopefully) most can, and someone will sort the stragglers when the dust settles.

I’m not in charge of a country (& neither are people who post comments on online news sites). But, during crises and beyond, our ability to achieve is highly impacted by our team’s ability to generate a high-trust environment.

Self-assessments are by definition SELF-assessments, so your FEELINGS about how your own team is doing on the trust front might be interesting but they’re a fraction of the picture. How can you better assess the current state of trust, determine where it should be, AND get yourself from A to B? It’s especially critical for remote teams who are separated by geography and schedule.

This is one of the personal and professional effectiveness topics I coach online in highly interactive sessions with practical takeaways. Let me know if you want to learn more.

Learn more

#leadingremoteteams #managingremoteteams

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