How to give advice

Let me give you some advice about a very complicated topic: ADVICE! It is an area where you can destroy many things or build real and vivid relationships. First of all i want to step on the shoulders of giants: stop your advice monster (a big THANK YOU again to Michael B. Stanier for this great metaphor from The Coaching Habit). Advice monster? Yes, giving advice is an art and you should not give it without permission and only if you are really forced to give it. But the most of us have a little monster on the shoulder, which is pushing us to give advice even if nobody asked for. It is our habit to give advice. Whenever you do it, the others, or better the advice recipients, will give their responsibility to you… and you guess it, you will take their chance to grow by this.

General things

Let’s dive quick into the topic: whenever somebody shows up and asks for advice, take the time for them. If it is not possible right now, make an appointment soon. Give the people the respect you would want to get and care! Step back from just saying “do this and that” towards listening and lifting up your fellows. Be flexible with the following steps – some people or situations need more, some people need less. Experiment with the process and try to find out what works best for you and in your surrounding. Be transparent about this experimentation by telling “let us try this and that”.

In my eyes it is appropriate to be happy, that somebody came to you with her problem. It is showing the big trust in you (or the arising one). As consequence thankfulness should be your attitude. This helps you later on being open and really helping.

Try to be as generous as possible. To the ones who come to you and the ones they might have trouble with. We are all humans and mistakes are human too. Even if you don’t like somebody it seems a good habit to assume always the best intents and freeing your mind towards those people.

The easy steps

Step one: Listen actively

First and most important of all: listen! But not just sitting around and waiting, be as curious as possible. Ask over and over again about more side parts or in depth. How should you be useful, if you don’t understand the full problem? And you will not understand it fully… never πŸ™‚

Step two: Open new options

Whatever came up in the discussion till now, somehow we don’t want to stay at the problem stage (side note: in the great book Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making the problem opening phase is followed by a grown zone, which should not extended to long). We need solutions! Those are made of possible options to solve the problem. Help your asker to see as much ways as you can to get out of the dark seas. Start maybe with “What do you think we could do about it?” to open space for own ideas. In my experience those are most fitting and sustained ones. If there are more solutions which aren’t found by their own, offer them in a friendly way by asking “Do you think this could work too?”.

Step three: Help deciding which option to choose

From here you will observe a wide range of possible things which could happen: from “Thank you so much, i will go this way!” to being completely overwhelmed and not able to decide. When in doubt, ask for every possible solution “What will change for now and in the future, if we go this way?”. Closely listen and note the things which come up. When you’ve talked about every useful solution, the question to answer is “Which way points to the best possible (or sometimes least bad) future?”. If there is such a solution and the advice seeker has a good feeling about it, you’ve made it. Ask again, if there is something left. Sometimes small side things are open and can be handled separated. Last part here: be thankful again and let everybody know it!

Step four (optional): Ask for feedback

If you two find a solution, that’s great! If it feels right to ask for a little feedback: go for it! Sometimes you will get the feedback anyway. Sometimes it is good to wait some days or weeks to ask how the things worked out.

Conclusion

Make a difference for the people who come to you! Don’t hurry to give advice to fast, let them stand up and go their way. This way they feel better and more responsible. They will have more self-efficacy and a boost of self-confidence.

Thanks for reading! What things came up when you gave advice? What mistakes did you make? What did you learn? Leave a comment and let the world know!

Responsibility Process

While reading and writing about Extreme Ownership i remembered, that i already heard of a similiar thing: the Responsibility Process from Christopher Avery. It also gives you the awareness, that you, and only you, are responsible for the things that happen in your life. Ok, sometimes you can not influence what is happening. But you can decide how to react on it! And there is the big power of the Responsibility Process: it just categorizes your responses to the world. You can take the responsibility or act in a irresponsible way. Those ways are obligation, shame, quitting, justifying and laying blame. And just for the entertainment: i forgot denial on purpose! Every single not responsible reaction is a way to somehow not feel the things which maybe are your part of the situation. By having this clear in your mind, it is getting easier to stand up feel responsible for the situation again. In my wallet i have printed and laminated card with the possible reactions. It reminds me from time to time to reflect in which states i am in different areas of my life. It helps me to get out of them, whenever i remind it.

How do you keep yourself responsible? What do you think about the responsibility process? Leave a comment and let the world know, what you think! And as always thanks for reading and i would be happy, if you share my posts πŸ™‚

Book review: Extreme Ownership

In this smaller review i want to present a real eye opening book about leadership: the Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. As the subtitle “How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win” already brings up, those two are former Navy Seals. Only by reading the blurb made me a better guy by converting a problem at work from “we’re stuck” into “i go first, let’s have a look where we can get things”. How comes, that a book can influence your live so easily? Its success is based on many smaller and bigger principles, which are described always in the same way: a deeply described situation of the war in Iraq, a principle explanation and in the end a transfer to the business world with real life examples.

The main principle is that: you are responsible for everything what is happening in your sphere of influence. It’s really that easy! This principle is valid for everything: your private life, your business life, your voluntary work for non profit organisations. Whatever it is, you are resonsible! And not just a bit like “yes, i could do something about it”. Really like “if there is something not fitting, i can and will fix it!”. It is pushing yourself into the doing and stepping forward. It was reminding me of the Responsibility Process of Christopher Avery, which also brings up that it is you part to change the game.

Conclusion

For me the book is absolutely important, because it points out the self-efficacy of everyone of us. It is quite interesting to read, even if you’re not into the army and war things. The main principles are in the first chapters. Later the principles are a bit less powerful, but that is only since they are not for so big parts of everybodies life. I recommend this book to everybody!

Have you read this book? Or an even better one? What are your suggestions about self-efficacy and taking responsibility? What worked and what didn’t? Just leave a comment and let the world know about!

Thanks for reading, i hope you enjoyed and took something useful out of it!

The power of silence

In this post i am going to focus on a topic which is hard to maintain and helps me often in different situations: silence. I see you asking “How is silence helping you? It’s often awkward and not helping to get into action! Why should we sit around without coming up with a plan?” Be assured, we will cover those feelings too :)! I read about the gap in the conversations often. Lately in the Coaching Habit. Lets dive in and see what can be found in the bigΒ  black nothing!

Silence for yourself

Let’s take at first a look where every good leadership starts: you. Whenever you let a gap in the words spoken, you can be shure that you got the chance to think about new ideas on a topic. Often the first ideas are good. Second and third ideas sometimes are amazing. So leave the chance of a chance for great ideas! On the other hand you get the opportunity to think about how to involve the others better. How can i help them better? How can i get them better into seeing my point of view? How can i get them to see the whole picture? How can i see their stance more clear?

Next great thing of a small piece of no words is the chance to get over a bad feeling. Whenever you have a feeling, be assured, that someone will see it or feel it too. Ok, most guys tend to push this touchy-feely thing away as fast as a ray of light. But: having a feeling and getting over it, before exploding, helps you to be fair and calm. That’s were we find another small gem: the time to reflect. Whenever you have time to reflect, you can get into a better understanding of the situation, your counterparts and yourself.

The last soft topic on your side is the feelings in you and the room. Sometimes there is a little part not fitting. There is a small thing which creates an odd perception in you. You see the things and a small voice in the background tells you “hey, this isn’t fitting overall”. Take the time to find out what it is. Hold the feeling in the room. Try not to get fast over it. Hold it in your body and find out where it sits, what it is about and what it is telling you! And with this last note on you, we can step over to the next part: the others!

Silence for the others

We’ve seen how challenging it can be to be silent for yourself. Let’s have a wider look at something crucial in leadership: the others. Whenever you let others the time to think or feel what is going on, you open the possibility of further development. You let them find out what the challenge is all about. You give them the chance to figure out things, to come up with own thoughts and solve theΒ  problem(s) on their own. This little gem is making a crucial difference in leading and in relationships.

Even if it is hard to remain silent, you’re maybe used to always find a good or great solution fast, it is worth on multiple layers. If you just take over control, you give the others the signal to lean back and see with what solution you will come up. Sometimes this is becoming a real vicious circle: nobody is used to think in solutions, cause you will step in and “rescue” everybody. For the lazy ones this is a good feeling, for the eager ones this is a bad feeling. Imagine you want to learn and get further in your carreer. Than there is a boss or leader always making every decision and coming up with solutions, even before the question was ended or talked out loud. The habit of this guy will take your chance away to come up with your own ideas and to make them better over time. You feel not trusted and will be frustrated. I know, this is one of the more negative possible situations. But it’s totally worth thinking about, because every frustrated great guy will sooner or later move on to the next challenges. And the chance to loose a colleague because you couldn’t let space for her development is worth to think about your habits!

Conclusion

My advice for you: play around with the mighty tool of silence. Get out of your habit to jump in and let your advice monster (thanks to Bungay Stanier Michael for this great image) take over the situation! Learn to hold the tension of waiting for the ideas of your colleagues! It’s absolutely worth: it opens space for further and faster development and enriches the possible solutions you have in the most situations.

Book review: The Coaching Habit

Have you ever read a book and thought “that’s simple but genius”? No? Than you should read The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier. If your answer is “yes”, it’s also highly recommended. Why am i so convinced by this book? The easy answer: the subtitle is “Say less, Ask more & Change the Way You Lead Forever” and it was really like this for me. The book itself is really entertaining to read. Short and concise chapters make it simple to read in a few hours and find the things later fast. There are several genius concepts in it, which make remembering them unbelievable easy. Best example is the advice monster. Whenever somebody comes to you and asks a question, most of us are used to give an advice. Often there isn’t even a question necessary to wake up this cute fellow which hinders real growth. Whenever the advice monster starts to take over control, your counterpart is not longer trying to find a solution herself. By this they will not develop further and get used to have their problems solved by someone else. You see where this is going: you break their learning experience and even make others stop thinking. And we don’t need to talk about the bad things caused this, right?

The book is divided into short chapters which either are highlighting a question or some extra knowledge about habits, breaking them and introducing new ones. Let’s have a short look on three of the seven concise, world changing questions!

Question #1: What’s on your mind?

Somehow before getting lost in small talk or chitchat you need to kickstart the conversation about the things which drive your counterpart crazy. Therefore this short and easy one is designed to get to the point straight ahead. I feel like every word more on this one would be boring and i am uncomfortable writing so much about it πŸ™‚ so go for it!

Question #2: And what else?

Often the first thing isn’t the only one. And even better: it’s not the true, most important, most hurting point. The elephant is still unadressed! Therefore a second, third or thousandth time asking what there could be is moving the spotlight until everything is said. That’s the justification for this question: finding the things which matter and give them a chance to be solved!

Question #3: What’s the real challenge here for you?

When everything is out of the mouth and on the table, we need to find the most struggling thing. The one which drives the other crazy! Nobody can tell you better which thing it is, than the one who came up with all his problems. Again a good point to realize, that you shouldn’t solve problem number two, three or anything else than number one. And on top you should not solve the problem by advising! Lift your peer to find her own solution. Than everyone learned somthing, feels better and is empowered!

Overall there are seven of those smart questions, which all have their genius reason. They all help you to step up on your leading and your sparring partner to get out at least a bit smarter.

Did you already read the book? Would you read it after this blog post? How do you coach your colleagues? What worked well for you? Leave a comment and let the world know what you think!

As always thanks for reading and have much success in coaching!

Book review: Eat That Frog!

We all heard the fairy tail of the brothers Grimm in which the girl kisses the frog and he automagically converts into a charming prince. Maybe you liked the story or you did not. That’s not the point for todays book review! The book i am writing about today is Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy. I mentioned it earlier in blog posts about virtuous circles and about moving motivators.

A frog – seriously?

Eating a frog! How ugly is this? And there it doesn’t stop! On one of the first pages we are encouraged to eat the biggest frog we can find! And later on we should eat that one as the first one!

The frog is only a metapher for your tasks. How often did you came accross a task you didn’t wanted to do? How often did you procrastinated without getting something productive done? The book helps you figuring out what is important, urgent, valuable and needed. This is done by a very useful set of principles. First and best example is the ugliest frog. Whenever you feel, that you could do something better with your time, go for it. But it also comes up with advices for planning your future and your day. Sometimes there are already well known things like Pareto’s Principle (at least for me it was not new). But they are presented very detailed and from multiple sides. This helps to understand things deeper and reflect more and better. Other things are not so obvious. Being a creative procrastinator was one of these things i never heard before. Its absolutely clear, that you can’t do everything you would like to do in your life. So you need to put things into the background, which are not highest priority. Also you learn how to push yourself into action. Overall there are 21 techniques to recognize and eat the most important frog first and to swallow it as good as you can.

Conclusion

The book Eat That Frog! is written very entertaing. It is easy to read and understand. At the end of each chapter the great tips are summarized again for being accessible later fast. The chapters are atomar, so that you can pick up the book, check out a chapter and try one chapters recommendations. The clear advices are fast and easy implemented. So overall this book is full of easy and brilliant things. Some you may know, some seem too easy, but its good to be reminded again!

Management 3.0: #2 Moving Motivators

In an earlier blog post i wrote about the Management 3.0 technique of the Kudo Cards and what i’ve learned using them.

Today we’re going to have a look at my experiences with the Moving Motivators, as you guessed it right, also a Management 3.0 technique. The key question the Moving Motivators try to solve is the following: what are the intrinsic motivations of a person and what does she win or lose if something changes? So it is a tool to become aware of the things the player thinks are most important to herself and make them transparent. That said, we can have a look at the motivators one can choose from. They are the following:

  • Curiosity
  • Honor
  • Acceptance
  • Mastery
  • Power
  • Freedom
  • Relatedness
  • Order
  • Goal
  • Status

Note, that the first letters form the word CHAMPFROGS, which reminds me of the great book Eat That Frog! – you don’t know it? My recommendation: read it, its full of entertaining small pieces of daily usable wisdom!

Lets have a look on the overall process: we have a facilitator, a player and the deck of motivator cards. The facilitator explains the steps and asks further questions to point out insecurities and make things clearer. First step is, that the player sorts the motivators in descending order of how important they are for her. Second step is to ask a question to have a closer look at. This can be as simple as “How will my life change, if i take the next step in my carreer and go to XYZ?”. With this question in mind you now have a look at each of the motivators. Will this motivator change to the good or to the bad? If its getting better with this decision, you move the motivator card upwards as much as you feel. If the motivator will be damped or you feel it will go down, you move the motivator card downwards as much as necessary. If you want to decide between several options, you can play the game multiple times, till you have a complete set of “How my life will change”-situations. You than can compare the options from another point of view.

When i played the game myself, i found some helpful things for myself: first i loved finding out what my motivators are. Being aware about what i need and want a bit more clearly made my expectations more realistic. Seeing that some things can be better, while other things go worse, gave me a deeper understanding of the complexity. When seeking for the next job it helped me and still helps me to figure out what i really want and where to go and where not.

When i played the game as facilitator i found, that this little game is a powerful tool for many people to find their way. On top it is a great structure to get in touch with the deeper feelings of one another. Whenever two people need to find out the real intention and motivation of one another it is a good starting point to have a look at the cards and open up. This is easier than with the direct question, because the cards and fun of a game is making the situation not looking to serious. But: you can handle really serious situations, don’t be fooled by the nice looking cards!

As a bonus i developed a nice little browser tool, with which you can play the Moving Motivators online. You can even save and load your results to have a look later on (have a look in the lower right corner for the icons ;)!

Did you ever heard from the Moving Motivators? What are your experiences with them? In which role did you played them? And what did you learned while plaing it? If you never heard of it: did this post animated you to try it out?

Thanks for reading and have a successful day!

Great leadership

At this point of time i feel that its a good moment to fixate my learnings about leadership. The ones i felt how i would like to go, the ones i learnt by horrible mistakes or blind spots and the ones i read about. Why do i want to write about them? Just to reflect my situation and where i am now and what i want to reach. Some things i already live quite well, some things i want to achieve. Lets dive in directly with the first and biggest learning: leading starts with yourself!

Lead yourself first

This is the way most important thing about leadership i see: when you’re not able to lead yourself, you can’t lead others. Well you can, but you will not be as effective and successful as you could be. So the journey to become a great leader, starts with your first step to reflect yourself regularly. It is very helpful to be aware about the situation in yourself and in the others around you. This gives you the possibility to see the chances you and others have in this exact moment. And seeing more options opens a whole new universe of possible solutions.

Be respectful with yourself. This one starts with the thoughts you have and goes over the actions you take. If someone around you is consequently and constantly disrespecting you or your role, than first of all talk to them, if this doesn’t help to their boss and if it still doesn’t change, do yourself a favor and move on to the next position. Easy as this: you always have the option to accept it, change it or leave.

Win the inner game: don’t let the lazy dog do his “laying in the sun” game. Go progressive against procrastination! Don’t shout out every angry comment you have in your mind. Often its not making the situation going anywhere good. Don’t rant around about everything and everyone. Sometimes its good to show the energy of anger, but you should spare it for the points when the time is ripe and your peers are open for the extra energy shot. Exploding daily makes it common and nobody will listen to you any longer. So in a nutshell: you are the boss of the feelings you have and show. Win the fights with yourself, to win the ones outside.

The next point of leadership is focusing. I know a lot of guys with great ideas. They have plenty of them and are keen about all of them. They start to build a thing and a week later they tend to the next one and leave the first one aside unfinished. By this habit they leave a trail of started projects and none of them works. Sometimes its the point, that they tend not to get over the dip in a new area and sometimes they just leave it die because there is a newer, more sexy thing around. With focus on only a small set of goals or projects you will always reach better results. If you only have a little set of objectives, it will be easier to stay on track and reach them. When you finish one, you can and should put a new one on your list. My maximum which worked out very well was three goals at a time. More goals and i tended to not make the goals big enough. Less worked well, but if there is a external blocker in one thing, which you only can influence and not shape directly, its getting a bit unfocused again. You have no goal number two and don’t want to open a new one without finishing the old one. A small dilemma, but it’s ok. So three objectives is my favorite. By prioritizing them in the Eisenhower matrix you can assure to not work on things which are not important and urgent. More great hints on how to get the right things done are in the book Eat That Frog!.

In my eyes having a vision is another key to lead yourself to something great. Sure, often in life there is no easy planning for how to go step by step to where you want to end up in your carreer. You meet the most important people in your life sometimes on purpose and sometimes just by accident. But forming a clear vision helps seeing when the right ones stand in your door. You get the chance to feel that there is someone who can give you something, if you have your why as concise as possible in your mind. With the why often a what and a how comes for free. Find the leaders worthy to follow. And search for them! Look for great visions and the ability to inspire others with the ideas and the questions!

The last two things you can do are being proud and keeping your ego in its healthy boundaries. As often in life it is important to have a good balance. Here this means to have a standing, an opinion and to not stand still on this opinion. If there is a better way to see things, switch to it. If the new way doesn’t work out well after a time: go back! Be agile and flexible in your mind. Nothing is worth leadership than staying stubborn on your old point and expecting better results than you already got. Some things should form your core values. You should not touch these values. For example one of my core values is respect. Sure, its sometimes hard to maintain, if somebody is disrespectful over and over again on purpose, but its worth to have such a value and i won’t skip it for little things.

Lead others to grow leaders too

As we’ve talked about things which touch only you, lets see how to handle the easier part: the others πŸ™‚

One thing i would like to point out first is this: don’t talk patronizingly to others. This gives them a feeling of not being worthy and takes away motivation. Even more you should not think about others in such a way. It already forms your actions and your mindset in a way where your opposite feels whatever they say, you are or feel to be the better one. Which is not only a strange feeling, but also a demotivating factor. The opposite of thinking like this is to ask for their ideas and try to get them involved by heart. This is done by letting them create the things they invented. They proposed a good product feature? Let the ones who had the idea build it! They came up with a better process? Let them improve the status quo with the help of you! They will feel included, valued and worthy. They are in it with their full hearts!

To have your team and coworkers on your side, you need to be crystal clear in where to go, how and why. That’s a key to have the ones which care, on your side (the other ones you will never get, they are already gone in their mind). You need to come up with a vision and communicate it. When you’ve clearified what the goal is, you can always set borders around it and communicate respectful feedback. This is needed to not get lost in anarchy and stay on track. Like parents you need to say “no” to things which get the organization and the team away from its goals. Its your responsibility as the leader to watch out where the team is going. And this borders, rules and visions have to be repeated over and over again! The repitition has to be done until things are improved and everyone understands the why behind the what.

Lets talk about one not so nice part of leading: the complains. Whatever you do, decide or tell, there could be someone complaining or even hating it. I am not sure, if it is a limiting belief, but you can’t be with every decision on the “love it” side for everybody everytime. So expect to make hard decisions and get harsh feedback from above, your side and the ones you lead. A big help for me always is to separate what is against me and what against my role. Try to find out where the complains come from. Is it an unfulfilled need? Try to figure out how to fill this hole. Is it a demotivation? Try to explain and find a motivator which you can use now. The key is to only solve the issues which are the root cause and not fiddle around with the symptoms. They will come back again with the next decision.

Ok, enough of the hard parts – back to the loving parts again! When you lead, you have responsibility. And with responsibilty comes the obligation to care for others. In my eyes one of the good reasons to become a leader. Make sure noone is overloaded with work or responsibility. That’s not easy: one guy can handle a workload or responsibility which is way to much for the next guy. Also the actual personal situation has to be considered. Most people can handle more when in a save position at home and at work. If there are hard times at home, it is not healthy to keep the same load on their shoulders as before. Whenever you give someone more responsibility make sure, that she gets the time to grow into the new situation. Nothing is more demotivating than being thrown into the too cold water. It is substantive to make sure they know it is their responsibility now and exactly in which steps they will grow into it. Therefore it is necessary to formulate the goals and steps as SMART as you can. Try to find the best fit for the organisations and the peoples needs. Watch out that they have everything they need! Including time, the support and all materials you can find and afford. Not only for the set of goals, but also for being the best version of themselve! Take a close look on the “attractive” part of the SMART goals. If the person is not accepting the goal you set, the end of the story will be disappointment. I know that not every interpretation of the smart acronym is with an attractive, but there is always an equivalent. Without the inner support of the one you lead, the failure is programmed and waiting in one or the other way. Assure, that your followers know the goal, like the goal and belief in theirself. Therefore appreciate their successes as often as you can and make failure a pleasure to learn from. No fingerpointing, no blaming, just say “that went wrong, lets have a look what we can learn and how we can do better!”. It’s as easy as this: be respectful! Nobody makes mistakes on purpose or to do harm. Or at least very few people. And if so, find out, if it is in their personality and set borders. If these don’t work, pick them out.

Try to delegate as much as you can. If you share responsibilty with your followers everyone wins: you win time to focus on better things than doing the daily work and the others win the chance to grow and feel seen in their full potential. Everybody can be happier with shared responsibilities.

By letting others grow around you and giving them the chance to grow into a great leader too, they learn to handle things in a healthy way. They are not thrown into a leaders role from zero to one hundred percent in a day, they can take over things slowly and learn to handle inner and outer factors in small and growing scopes. By this the things are not outgrowing and the feeling of being overwhelmed is not so often present.

The last two points i want to share are those: stay until its sure you have raised good leaders which can take over the situation and search for great leaders to follow by your own. When you stay till you know the new leaders are able to handle things in a good way, you are not leaving burned ground. Sure, sometimes the situation is hardened and there is no other way than leaving. For instance if you find yourself in a mismatch of your values and the organizations values. Or if constant disrespect is given to you or your role. If talking isn’t making things better, than you should pack your stuff together and search for something new. Here comes the last big point into play: if you change your position, search for environments that fit at least at the base to you, your values and your ideas. Therefore search for the leaders which do something better than you. Those you can learn from in one or the other way. Those, which inspire you just by little talks. Which let you grow and which are searching for more than power by having a leadership position. For instance they can be interested in virtuous circles or in the people around them. It is your responsibility to have a very close look where to go next before you leave anywhere! Be picky! Don’t go for less, you only have this one live and you want to life it as great as you can. Therefore try to find the best overall! One last hint: don’t blame yourself, if you made a mistake with one of your steps. Learn from it and go further!

What experiences do you have with leadership? What great points did you find in others, which made you follow them immediately? What worked well for you? Please let a comment, if you have great insights or if you liked this article!

Thanks for reading and have fun leading your life! πŸ™‚

Virtuous circles

The subtitle to this post is “How to create them in your life”. But first things first! I see you asking “What is an virtuous circle?”. In german there is the word Teufelskreis which translates to doom circle or vicious circle. If you are in a vicious circle, you’re in a situation, where you over and over go through a row of events or actions and it gets worse all the time. Second characteristic for this circle is, that it seems to be impossible to break out. So you feel doomed in it to do this things forever. So far so bad… here comes the good news: there is a good counterpart, you guessed it, the virtuous circle. In german it is called Engelskreis. The virtuous circle is a situation, where everybody gets more energy while a set of actions is going on forever. If nobody breaks it. Sounds good, i know. There are many ways to create virtuous circles in your life. I will not be able to cover all of them, but in my eyes a good start is to separate them into the ones which only have yourself as acter and the ones with more protagonists.

Virtuous circles only with yourself

The first and most virtuous thing i found in my life is to be friendly with myself. Whenever something happens i try to be as friendly as possible to myself. For example if i break something, i don’t tell myself the story, that i am clumsy, but i try to think that next time i will take care more. Also don’t tell yourself, that you are something negative, like “i am dumb” or “this action was dumb”. There are enough guys in this world who can think this, but that’s not your business and in your head should not do it. Just say “Oh, that could have gone better, next time i will watch out” and you find yourself in a better mood and with more self respect. Thus you will go through the world with more positive energy and attract more positive energy. It’s not necessary to be negative, its a vicious circle. So be generous with your weak sides and with the weaknesses of others!

Another great virtuous circle generator is the habit of installing good habits in your life. So for instance if you decide to start the day more motivated than with a cup of coffee, you have plenty of choices: you can decide to meditate, make some excercises or start to write every morning for a given time in your own blog. Creating and doing physical or mental excercises are a the chance to get into the “i’ve already done something good for me before leaving the house” mood. With this feeling the hard parts of your day can’t hurt you as much as with a cup of coffee. Other positive habit examples are the Pomodoro Technique, to reflect on a daily basis or working daily on your list of your personal rules. Maybe i will write about the personal rules later in another post. Short overview: i am reading a set of rules for myself everyday before i start working. While reading them i reflect them already-what could be improved, exchanged or added? One example rule on my list is “i train constant and hard”. This helps me to have my key values and habits easier in mind, when it comes to laziness or dips.

Beside this points you can get much more virtuous circles in your life through the aware setting and reaching of your goals. Aim for bigger things and break them down into small (or only the next) steps. One good method is from the book Eat that frog: sort your todos into categories A to E, where A is most valuable and E is least valueable. Then start always with the most important A. It is called the biggest frog. When you ate this frog, go to the next one and so on. Behind this is the sweet treasure of focus. Focus will help you in a virtuous way to get further than you thought!

Virtuous circles with others

Lets talk about how to create virtuous circles with others. The first thing how to create a virtuous circle with others is as easy as obvious: giving. Whenever you give something, it may be a little bit attention or a helping hand or some friendly word or even a smile, you give the opportunity for the other one to feel good and give it back to you. The important thing about this is to give without expectation. If you’re giving with the expectation to get something back, it is not going to become virtuous. Maybe the other one feels it in the exact moment, maybe later on. Read more about it in the great book Give and take. If you give without expectation, the other one can decide to give back to you (and your virtuous circle can start) or to someone else (and a bigger circle can start).

Another start for a virtuous circle is being thankful. If you’re thankful for what you got and whom you have, you live in a mindset where you respect others as they are. This gives them the great feeling of being ok as they are. A very peaceful and healthy experience. They feel better, have more energy and the chance to give this great gift back to you or someone else. Thus we’ve started another virtuous circle. While talking about the thankfulness we already touched on the next two things: being aware and being respectful. They lay really close to each other. to be thankful its helping to aware and respectful. Whenever you are (self-)aware, you are just one step away from being thankful. Without awareness its getting harder to see the possibility to be thankful. All together form a powerful mixture of living in peace with yourself and others. Which helps you and the ones around you having more creative power to build a better future. Virtuous circle case closed :)!

With awareness you receive another great gift: you are able to handle negativity of others and not only react on it unconscious. First of all you can see whenever someone brings negativity with himself. Thats the point where you can decide to not let touch their thoughts you. By keeping this things away from yourself, you are able to make them aware of the things they do to others. On the other side you get the great chance to think about who is giving you a hint and why he is maybe doing it. By this you become more able to react properly. You get more opportunities to react without being or becoming unconscious. Than you don’t have to exclude these people from your life. You can decide to tell them whats going on and set some borders between you and them. Or you can move further full of awareness without getting enmeshed with someone.

The last tip for virtuous circle creation with others is a bit different: become a tribe leader. What’s ment with this? Just start learning how to grow a movement by not being necessary in the position of the organisational leader, but just by giving value to a group of people. Great books for learning about this topic are Tribal Leadership and Tribes. It is fun, because you end up giving and earn respect of others. This pushes you further in the direction of doing and giving more. Which helps others even further. And the circle closes in a virtuous way!

Areas of life

We’ve talked about how to create the godlike circles, let us have a closer look where you can create virtuous circles: the areas of life. In Feng Shui are nine areas of life present:

  • finances and richness
  • fame and glory
  • relationships
  • health and family
  • me, myself and i (here is ment you and only you)
  • kids and creativity
  • knowledge
  • carreer
  • helpful friends

Stefan Merath proposes eight others in his book “Der Weg zum erfolgreichen Unternehmer“:

  • personality and learning
  • happiness and emotions
  • partnership, sexuality and family
  • friends and network
  • body and healthness
  • finances and material things
  • company and entrepeneur
  • world and meaning

It is not important which system you lay under your creational path of becoming a virtuous circle master. More important is to find the points which do not work as good as you want and improve them. Another good hint is to bring the life areas in a good balance. Not just fiddle around in one area. The best example is to not only look on your finances and leave the people around you out in the cold. Everything is important and if there is no balance in between the topics in your life, you will miss happiness.

Lets have a short look at the job you got! Whenever you search for a new job, you can always ask you the following two questions:

  • Is the work philosophy of the company fitting to me?
  • What can i learn in this job?

Whenever the work philosophie fits to you, the chances are higher, that you can give while become more energized. That doesn’t mean, that you completely have the same values like the rest of all bosses and employees, it points more into the direction, that it fits together without making to much discomfort. So most of the time peaceful conversation about ways to go should be possible and valued by your peers.

The other thing you can always ask yourself is what you can learn. Whenever you ask yourself this question, you become open for other opinions and impulses. This gives you the great chance to really listen and embrace to improve yourself! When others feel this openness, they feel more free to talk in clear words their real opinion. That is a great way into working better together and creating more space for improvement and happiness.

Conclusion

We’ve seen a lot of kinds of virtuous circles and a bit of how to create them. So now i want to roundup my thoughts with this call: go out and create as much as possible virtuous circles in your life and the lifes of others! If something doesn’t works at the first try go a bit simpler or smaller and try again. Talk out loud whenever you feel the idea of telling people about an idea for an energy loading interaction! Just go out and be the improvement you think the world needs.suche aktiv Engelskreislaufe in deinem Leben!

Which circles do you recognize in your life? Are there more positive or more negative ones? Were or are you able to influence them to a positive effect? How is it with others? Do you see what drives them around for good or bad? Have you already created self-aware a virtuous circle? Let us know how and what experiences you had by leaving a comment here!

Thanks for reading and have fun creating your own virtuous circles!

Management 3.0: #1 Kudo Cards

You may have heard about the Management 3.0 system. It is a set of games, tools and practices, which helps managing oneself and organisations. In this little series i am explaining one by one some of these parts of the system and share my experiences with them. Lets dive right into the first part: the Kudo Cards!

Kudo Cards & Kudo Box

The Kudo Cards are a set of cards (you guessed it right ;)). On those cards some kind of compliment sentences are started and there are some empty lines to fill. Example compliments are “Well done …” or “Great job …”. Thats it. Your job is now to think of your colleagues and pick an event or quality which you really like and fill the empty space with your own words. Afterwards you can either hand it over directly or anonymously. For the anonymous way there is a Kudo Box. It is like a mailbox, where you can throw in your mail and then it is up to your organisation how to ritualise the handover. In our company we do it as one point to hand out the Kudo Card to the adressee. But he is free to only read it alone or to say thanks how he want.

Our Kudo Box with the great Kudo 2.0 QR Code Video Kudo Card.

My experience

When i introduced the Kudo Cards, i was just thinking, that they are a great idea. As i am, i handed my first set directly to the recipients and did not think about what they could think about it. So i didn’t installed a Kudo Box or a ritual, because in my eyes it was like positive things could be told face to face. Damn was i wrong. As a direct reaction to my announcement three guys came to me and asked why there is no Kudo Box. Asking them why they want one, brought up, that they are shy and don’t want to hand them directly. So our Kudo Box was born and the ritual was introduced, which made these shy ones happy.

To accelerate the usage of these ideas i started writing cards for the ones who deserved it before the company retrospective. Everyone who got one card was happy and proud in this moment. It was a great experience to see, what a little compliment in front of everybody else can do. Some where infected by the idea and also wrote compliments for others too. They mostly gave them directly or brought them to the desk when the recipient wasn’t there. One great idea was a “Kudo Card 2.0” with a QR code. Behind the QR code was a link to a YouTube video with an old german ad celebrity telling you what a marvelous colleague you are. At the moment the Kudo Cards are somehow in a hibernation. Since more than two months there is no card in our box. But i don’t stop to remind my colleagues and hold up the ritual of opening the Kudo Box while the company retrsopective.some gave the Kudo Cards directly to each other some over the Kudo Box

Conclusion

First of all i really love the Kudo Cards. Having a little positive wall near my desk keeps up my moral and helps over heavy situations! This experiment helped me learning things too! First a real obvious one: not everybody is as extrovert as me with compliments and feedback. Second they last much longer than the short term experience of a spoken compliment. Don’t get me right, if there’s something working well your rule of thumb should be to speak it out loud as fast as you can. Last but not least there is a big influence of just having this instrument in your company, organisation or tribe towards a positive way of thinking. Only some cards make a difference for those who get them. They walk around with a better mood for a while and give this happiness into a virtuos circle.

I absolutely recommend Kudo Cards for you! πŸ™‚

Do you have any experiences or want to say anything about this topic? Just leave a comment, thanks for reading!