Power of choice

We make choices everyday. Small choices or big choices. Active choices (i.e. do something) or  passive ones (not to do something).

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Big choices with big impact. This includes lifetime decisions such as marriage, jobs, and schools you go to.

Small choices with big impact. What we eat and drink for lunch doesn’t seem to be a big choice, but our eating habits has a big impact to us. Sending one small thank you note to someone isn’t a big decision, but it can lead to a big difference.

Big choices with small impact. Confessions requires courage, but sometimes the impact isn’t as big as you expect.

Small choices with small impact. Trivia. Many of our daily life and work decisions fall into this box.

In the end it is about making conscious choices. Be it the food I eat or the words I use. I wish to be more mindful on those choices.

 

 

 

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5 phrases to validate and complement

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Here are some useful phrases that I learned from Solution Focused Coaching. The key take away for me is that compliment must be evidence-based. If it is not, it becomes “flirting“. While direct compliments are powerful, indirect compliments such as “wow, how did you do that?” are even more effective because it gives the other person to discover his or her strength. It works for all ages: from children to grown-ups!

Co-creative dialogue

There are two ways of learning: learning from the past and learning from the future.

The first one is common for strategy, planning, fixing problems, capturing and managing knowledge. This works if you already know what you want and where to find it.

However, in fast changing societies the future is increasingly unpredictable and no one knows for sure what will happen next. Then, learning from the future becomes a requisite for business.

For instance, today we use technologies that weren’t invented 10 years ago. And the next 10 years will most likely differ even more from the last 10 years.

So, how do we learn from the future?

First, we have to move away from the past-oriented thinking.

Our overwhelming workload makes it difficult to take time off and change our thinking. Unless we consciously shift our attention to the future, we make decisions based on old habits and judgments. We learn from the past.

So, the first step to learn from the future is to properly set time off to open our mind, heart, and will. The future is less about facts than the past, and can be shaped based on our intentions.

For example, I recently facilitated 3-month of co-creative dialogue with Eastvantage, a business process outsourcing company in Manila. Executives and senior managers met for 3 hours every two weeks, culminating in a 2-day offsite workshop.

The co-creative dialogue had no agenda. Instead, it set time off for sharing thinking as well as feeling, co-creating internal and external solutions the group had not thought of before.

“Co-creative dialogue allowed us to stand still and truly listen to our colleagues views on the future, for themselves, society and the company” said Joeri Timp, co-founder of Eastvantage. “It was refreshing to how each team member puts his energy behind the company plans when we recognize our own intentions and believes in these plans. In fact these plans became our own plans.”

Another company, an executive search firm in Manila, used co-creative dialogue for a strategic visioning session. In addition to doing well ($15 million revenue goal), the strategy now also incorporates elements of doing good (taking community responsibility through providing meaningful jobs in a shared economy).

This was only possible as each member honestly reflected on the questions: What difference do you want the company to make and how does that matter to you?

Every future is created twice: once in our mind, then in the physical world. By start paying attention to our intention, we also begin to learn from the future.

 

There are two ways of learning: learning from the past and learning from the future.

The first one is common for strategy, planning, fixing problems, capturing and managing knowledge. This works if you already know what you want and where to find it.

However, in fast changing societies the future is increasingly unpredictable and no one knows for sure what will happen next. Then, learning from the future becomes a requisite for business.

For instance, today we use technologies that weren’t invented 10 years ago. And the next 10 years will most likely differ even more from the last 10 years.

So, how do we learn from the future?

First, we have to move away from the past-oriented thinking.

Our overwhelming workload makes it difficult to take time off and change our thinking. Unless we consciously shift our attention to the future, we make decisions based on old habits and judgments. We learn from the past.

So, the first step to learn from the future is to properly set time off to open our mind, heart, and will. The future is less about facts than the past, and can be shaped based on our intentions.

For example, I recently facilitated 3-month of co-creative dialogue with Eastvantage, a business process outsourcing company in Manila. Executives and senior managers met for 3 hours every two weeks, culminating in a 2-day offsite workshop.

The co-creative dialogue had no agenda. Instead, it set time off for sharing thinking as well as feeling, co-creating internal and external solutions the group had not thought of before.

“Co-creative dialogue allowed us to stand still and truly listen to our colleagues views on the future, for themselves, society and the company” said Joeri Timp, co-founder of Eastvantage. “It was refreshing to how each team member puts his energy behind the company plans when we recognize our own intentions and believes in these plans. In fact these plans became our own plans.”

Another company, an executive search firm in Manila, used co-creative dialogue for a strategic visioning session. In addition to doing well ($15 million revenue goal), the strategy now also incorporates elements of doing good (taking community responsibility through providing meaningful jobs in a shared economy).

This was only possible as each member honestly reflected on the questions: What difference do you want the company to make and how does that matter to you?

Every future is created twice: once in our mind, then in the physical world. By start paying attention to our intention, we also begin to learn from the future.

 

Problem talk vs. solution talk

Here is my key learning of 2015: the differences between “problem talk vs. solution talk” and “how we learn not only from our past, but also from our future”.

Problem talk vs. solution talk comes from the Solution-focused (SF) approach initaited by Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg. Learning from the emerging future is a principle of Theory U, developed by McKinsey and Co. and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s Otto Scharmer.

SF and Theory U have different backgrounds. SF has emerged from psychotherapy and Theory U is based on research on leadership and management. However, they have a common ground: how we make a difference toward a preferred future, through cultivating mindfulness.

In “solution talk vs. problem talk”, I learned that removing our problems doesn’t always take us where we want. In other words, focusing on what we don’t want won’t necessarily lead to what we want. Though closely related, they are separate things.

For example, our new neighbor has over a dozen dogs and sometimes they all howl at night. It’s annoying and a problem. If I focus on the problem, my reaction would be to nock their door and complain whenever they howl.

But, coincidentally, when this started, I was taking the SF workshop on problem talk vs. solution talk. The solution, or what I wanted, was that my son gets enough sleep and my wife worries less about it.

Knowing that this is what I want, I tried to fix my son’s room to shut sounds out as much as possible, and put AC and fan on, so that he can sleep well.

I also went to my neighbor when dogs were NOT howling to tell them, “this morning was good. No howling. Is anything different from other days? And if it is, please keep doing it!”

The result – dogs still howl and we get annoyed from time to time, but my son gets his sleep, and I managed to keep a healthy relationship with my neighbor.

Identifying “what I want” and “what works” is generally more challenging than “what I don’t want” and “what doesn’t work”. For me as well. It requires a reframing of the problem and a shift of attention. But, I have learned that it’s possible. Especially when I slow down and practice mindfulness.

I am not saying that we shouldn’t talk about problems at all. It is important to acknowledge problems, challenges, obstacles and frustration. Theory U’s mantra is “observe, observe, observe” until we shift our mind toward solutions. However, we often spend way much time on problems, and they take over and control us. How about spending more time on focusing on solutions?

After taking several SF workshops this year, I passed the exam as Certified Solution Focused Practitioner, accredited by the International Alliance of Solution Focused Teaching Institutes (IASTI) and Canadian Council of Professional Certification (CCPC). This week, I am completing the MIT course U.lab, where I experienced the power of Theory U and learning from the emerging future. The new knowledge and network will be helpful for my life and work.

I hope 2016 will be a year of solution-focus, open to learn from the highest future possibility. I feel that our world needs this, more than ever.