The impossibilities are endless

The impossibilities are endless..

This article is dedicated to everyone who has ever faced a dead end or a giant obstacle or immensely unhelpful people on their journey in business (or all of them at once).

The impossibilities are endless..

This article is dedicated to everyone who has ever faced a dead end or a giant obstacle or immensely unhelpful people on their journey in business (or all of them at once).

Impossible people, situations, ideas, problems – they hem us in, pin us down and waste our time.

Most importantly, they limit our possibilities and deny us a way forward. They make us settle for less.. little by little stealing ground and hope.. if we allow it. And yet hope.. especially for anyone who likes to break down impossibilities.. like sugar cubes in their coffee before breakfast.. is everything. Hope breeds resilience. And resilience ensures that we can stick around long enough to grind down the impossibilities we face and get what we hoped for.

The impossible begins with us

In the working environment impossible situations often emerge from poor communication. Firstly with ones self, and then of course this affects how we communicate with others – big time. The same can also safely be said of the home environment. Where we see people saying they want one thing and then we see their actions leading to a different outcome.. clearly not communicating fully with themselves.. this is a key part of what helps to create an impossible environment.

More often than not the impossibilities we experience represent a boundary in our life, perhaps marking out the line between who we have been so far and whom we may evolve into next. This stage can sometimes be a nightmare mesh-work of identity defense, delivering a sweeping projection of fears until we find a way to close the gap between our actions and our desired outcomes. Possibilities arise when we see these impossibilities as simply representing a developmental breakthrough waiting to happen.  From this bitter sweet vantage point there are endless possibilities.

Continuous learning cycles are the key

We can all immediately start to make the impossible possible by aligning our behaviors with our desired outcomes. We can learn so much about what works on the way to our goals by trying and failing and calibrating until we hit the mark. And you will know that behaviors are changing to support goals when this kind of learning starts to happen.

Learning in an adult environment can be difficult as real learning is made up of lots of mistakes – as children this was included in play and was integrated into games. As adults we tend to take a dim view of other adults making mistakes as it can mean that risks increase.  As we get older we become more risk averse, which impacts on our ability to learn, and this has a direct impact on our ongoing neuro-plasticity.

Good learning cycles go on longer than we allow for in society and often need many iterations to fully move a person or group forward to another stage or level of development. We need to get better at re-coding what it means to learn as an adult. Ideally we should always be either in one learning cycle or entering the next one, and they will always be connected. We should encourage creativity and play as these bring innovations and the possibilities that transcend the impossible.

A Culture of Possibility – Creating possibilities for others

One way of supporting this is by creating a Culture of Possibility by developing those around you to become empowered and autonomous. In order to make sure it really becomes a culture we need to encourage shared behaviors and values, both seek and give regular feedback. Employers should act as conscious empowerers of people, setting them up to succeed rather than to fail. Whoever you are you can contribute to a culture of possibility right now by being more conscious of those around you.

Taking time to listen and being slightly more flexible in our thinking can be the difference that makes a difference. Owning our fears and desires and communicating clearly what we want and need can be incredibly powerful and often this is what will make things possible for you and for others. Consider regularly the things that you think are fixed in your reality, walk around the rooms of your mind tapping occasionally where unhappiness lies.. it’s quite likely that the wall is hollow there and just waiting for you to knock it through. And then sharing these breakthroughs with others is vital in creating a culture of possibility.

Impossibility killers – beliefs and attitudes

As the famous impossibility killer Mohammad Ali once said “impossible is nothing, it’s just an opinion”. Another renowned killer of impossibilities, Tony Robbins, says that “what we can or cannot do, what we consider possible or impossible, is rarely a function of our true capability. It is more likely a function of our beliefs about who we are”. The opinion of this writer is that the impossible can go and do the proverbial. It’s profoundly irritating and almost always wrong. Anything is possible if we take the attitude of Hannibal when he was faced with crossing the Alps and said “I will either find a way or create one”. The leading public speaker Simon Sinek sees constraints as “an opportunity for creativity. ..and the.. results are called innovation.”

To my own mind it seems true that if you are considering it then it must be possible. Whereas the really impossible stuff doesn’t even enter our imagination. In most cases the impossible is actually really just bloody hard, but with creativity, perseverance and a collaboration it’s eventually just a footnote to whatever you do next.

“If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it—then I can achieve it.” Muhammad Ali

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Adults Without Leadership

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If you want to develop your business, develop yourself and others

Having worked in lots of different company types and environments my own business environment is the product of various influences. As we at NSN grow in size and move on from being a youthful start-up, now in our 6th year of trading, the influence of some of the larger corporate structures are starting to emerge. Processes, metrics and the management of a larger body of human resource are coming into play. The key employees of today are the middle managers of tomorrow, and this presents both immediate challenges and benefits. In some ways, as a business and life coach, and a business professional I am in my element and have the ground nicely covered. In others I find myself with gaps in my awareness and skill-sets, with lots of ground ahead of me to cover in my own personal and professional development.

An environment of openness supports development

As a mature adult it is in my experience more important than ever it was before to be open to learning, and I work hard to create an environment where people can openly learn together, sharing information and questions quickly and easily. We still reach the limits of individual comfort zones from time to time, which is always a journey into the next stages of someone’s person and professional development; all the richer for being shared as a community within a business. Sometimes we hit bumps along the way and some adults handle these better than others. In my experience it is those who are open to leadership in these times that handle it the best.

Find leadership where you can and provide it in return

Over the years many different leaders and mentors have emerged in my life, some of them chosen by me, many not so much. The ones that stand out as I look back are the ones who didn’t have to provide insights or take the lead – they just did it, whether I enjoyed the experience at the time or not. As I look back I am grateful to all of them, they all had passion and the best of intentions. The ones that took extra time to help confusion turn into understanding are of course the ones that shine the most in memory. But it’s not necessarily the case that the ones who were abrupt and hard on me were any less helpful. In some cases leadership comes in the form of a perpetual relay race. For example, when people ask me how I have managed to work so successfully as equal owners in NSN with my business partner, who works thousands of miles away, the answer varies according to experience to date. What is always true is that we somehow manage to take turns in taking the lead as and when required – not perfectly, but well enough to keep moving forward.

Put yourself in situations where you have no alternative but to model, learn and apply the learning

One of the benefits of being younger is that the ego is a little less set in its ways. As time goes by and we occupy positions of responsibility both at home and work it gets harder for adults to get the feedback they really need to keep changing and developing into the next stage of their potential. This is one of the reasons that around 5 years ago I took up a martial art called Aikido. Subscribing to a fairly merciless feedback space like a dojo is hard for an adult to do as they get older. Picture the white belt on an older body with high grades zipping around at almost half your age; it’s a never ending identity crisis unless the adult accepts that this is a space in which the journey is more important than the journey markers, seniority or pecking order. These things exist in a dojo – they just matter so much less than the learning process itself.

Unlearning and relearning are key in the pursuit of mastery

In Aikido this is a perpetual process; you will always be outclassed by someone who came before you and there will always be another insight that will make you stop and consider everything you have learned to date in a whole new light. Sometimes taking you all the way back to the beginning in some way or another. The outcome being that you come to understand your chosen endeavor, be it Aikido, or anything in the working environment, at a deeper or more fundamental level. This experience is as invaluable as it is challenging; we as adults so often marry our progression in life with our sense of self – this can make us driven but it can also severely limit our ability to unlearn and relearn. Both of these things are essential in achieving new levels of development and indispensable in the pursuit of mastery.

Choose a space in which to stretch yourself.. and make mistakes!

It is something I encourage in all of the adults that I coach, train or manage in the working space – find a space in which you can be a beginner and submit to it fully. This for me brings great degrees of flexibility in learning and ensures that at least in one space I get the luxury of clear and consistent leadership. It has taken me a long time to appreciate the value of those who continuously stretch my capabilities. If you can find a space like a dojo or a diligent mentor who will give you space to find the understandings you need then you really are in a good place to make mistakes. Mistakes are fundamental in learning and achieving a working body of knowledge that will support you when times are hard and nothing comes easily.

In my experience it is this attitude to making mistakes that will help you to stay flexible in your mind and body, generating the best kinds of learning as you work to achieve your potential.. however old you are.