May 8, 2014

Ready to Learn for the 21st Century

My General Manager, Paul Mracek and I delivered our session yesterday at the ASTD Global Conference in Washington.

Entitled Neuroscience and Martial Arts: Learning That Drives Performance it offered us the chance to introduce AXIS to the world. 

What a thrill to share my passion and commitment to such a diverse group! We had people from literally every continent so gained a global perspective on people issues. It's no surprise that, while different cultures bring their unique perspective on issues, at the heart of it we are all the same.

Human beings are social creatures who need to connect, relate and collaborate.

But when emotions run amok, this derails our ability to build positive working relationships and cultures of joy and excellence. Being ready to learn changes the dynamics of our relationships to help us build bridges to solving those problems through gaining a more comprehensive view of what is really going on.

Being ready to learn is a mental state of awareness and responsiveness to your internal and external environment that allows for learning and adaptive behaviours. When you are ready to learn your mind is open, can engage and change. It's when your resistance to new ideas is lowered and when you are able to courageously deal with the tough issues. 

When you can face what isn't working, you'll stop doing it. When you can learn from what works, you'll keep doing that. 

The business world and life in general is becoming increasingly complex and we are having to adjust to an exponentially accelerating rate of change. Our readiness to learn is essential to business and personal success.

How can you be ready to learn?

1. As Macbeth said in Shakespeare's immortal play, "(Life) is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Recognise that your perception of the world is just that and not the truth. The brain is a non-stop filter that takes all the stimulus and information you receive from your internal and external world and only brings to your conscious awareness a by-product of that process. We will never have access to the full truth, only a small piece of it based on our bias and filters. Resistance is futile, accept that you'll never have the truth - just your version of it.

2. Shift your focus from your internal self-talk to the external world and train yourself to connect with what is happening around you without resistance. Accept what is happening and notice that your bias or judgements start to diminish. To train myself to be more accepting, I took on a mantra "everyone has a reason for what they do, even if I can't see it at the time." 

Sometimes you may say this through gritted teeth, but the fact is that we all behave consistently with our logic at that moment. Even if it seems warped to other people.

3. Remember that you are human and just as perfectly imperfect as the next person. Next time you catch yourself being judge and jury, remember some of the mistakes you have made. Keep in mind that a life led without mistakes is too small to even contemplate.
4. Seek to understand the logic behind their actions. Use the AXIS models to help you with this as well as to clarify what is running your own response. This will increase your readiness to learn, break your bias and help you to determine the most effective response in the situation. 

 Think of the AXIS models are your own EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) 

To gain a better view of the models and understand the thinking behind AXIS, go to:

Remember to stay ready to learn!

May 2, 2014

How a Blind Man Can See

It's been an exciting time for us as our clients use the AXIS models and framework to dramatically change conversations, leading to improvements in perspectives, performance and results.

We recently ran an AXIS cultural survey to help the CEO understand why his people weren't performing. His biggest concern was that, while they seemed engaged and committed, their interest wasn't translating into effective actions and results. 

The business was stagnant, the CEO was exhausted, stymied and stressed, and worried that they weren't even going to be in business by the end of the year.

Then the AXIS  Cultural Survey revealed two major blind spots at the source of his people's performance. 

He's been so busy running around reacting to urgent matters, that he's never stopped and engaged in the critical thinking essential to leadership effectiveness. As well, he's been taking the path of least resistance and doing the work himself rather than taking a bit more time to explain and delegate to his team.

In effect, running himself to the ground and trying to do the work for his people, leaving them out of the loop. Sound familiar?

Because he's such a nice, caring guy, no one has minded or been willing to say anything because they didn't want to hurt his feelings. 

AXIS helped him see the whole dynamics in a logical, productive way without any resistance or upset such that he could develop new practices to step away, delegate and trust more, and stop being the corporate mommy. 

Want to see the blind spots that stop you from bringing your best to your work? Check out the AXIS models. They're easy to learn and apply, and will help you confront issues you might normally shy away from. 

If you haven't seen the AXIS models yet, take a look at our sample reports at: