Friday, 4 February 2011

Need Mid-winter Motivation? Start thinking in Adjectives

February seems like a month that everyone needs a little motivation.  Christmas is gone, spring has yet to arrive and we find ourselves in the doldrums of winter.  I’d like to introduce you to someone with some inspiring ideas to give you a lift. Michael Bungay Stanier is the founder and Senior Partner of Box of Crayons, a company that helps organizations do less Good Work and more Great Work. He is the author of Do More Great Work and Get Unstuck & Get Going, and the creator of The Alchemy of Great Work, The Great Work Movie, The 5.75 Questions You've Been Avoiding and The Eight Irresistible Principles of Fun. Michael was a Rhodes Scholar and the 2006 Canadian Coach of the Year. He is Australian and now lives in Canada. He suggests you come up with 11 words for 2011  This has been a really inspirational and focusing exercise for me and more motivational than making (and not keeping) New Year’s resolutions.  My eleven words are: Calm, Empower, Connect, Confident, Daring, Thoughtfully Slower, Focus, Listen, Determined, and Learn. What would your 11 words be?  Michael also has a free e-mail you can subscribe to called The Seven Questions for a Life of Fun, Inspiration & Action. If you are feeling stuck it is just the thing to get your wheels moving again.

On the theme of motivation and using descriptive words, author and coach Martha Beck had some good insights on how we should be setting our goals.  She talks about setting goals not by using nouns and verbs (i.e.  I want to start my own business and have it succeed ) but by using adjectives ( I want my business success to produce feelings of contentment, freedom, empowerment.)  What do you want as a result? Work to create imagined experiences rather than imagined situations. So for example, you may get a successful business but not the experience you were hoping for – instead you’re stressed and over-extended. By using adjectives, you focus all your efforts on the quality of the experience you want to create.  Yes, it does take more effort than standard goal setting but you’ll reap the rewards. Here’s a summary of the four step process:

¨  Step One – Pick a goal
¨  Step Two – Gaze into the future and create a fantasy about it
¨  Step Three – Generate three adjectives – list words that describe how you feel in the fantasy
¨  Step Four- Focus on anything that can be described with your adjectives – drop the fantasy and focus on those three words –in what aspect of your present life can you feel those and put your attention there.
Sound like a helpful approach? You can read the full article here

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to do some career coaching at an event sponsored by The Guardian newspaper for people wanting to change industry or sector.  I met with several people who were looking to transition out of the public sector and into the private one, understandable in this current economic climate. The first step in this kind of a shift is self assessment.  Once you have a good understanding of what you bring to the table, you can then work on how best to market your skills and achievements to the private sector and be better prepared to craft a compelling CV.  Before your first private industry interview, think about how you want to be remembered ?  Come up with the three adjectives you'd like the interviewer to use when they decribe you to other people in the hiring process. Once you have these in the back of your mind you'll find they naturally seem to come through in your interview answers.  If you or someone you know is making this type of transition here is an article that may help  

To borrow Michael's phrase, I hope these ideas will create some fun, some inspiration and some action for you this month.