Author Archives: olgacuesta

On Indiana Jones Steps – Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 1989

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The place you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.

As we make our choices in life, or not!, as it may be the case, it comes down to those decisions that shape our future, where we live, what we do and how many hours we work in one given week.

While reflecting on some of the choices I have made I wonder where would I be in life if I would have made different decisions, chosen a different path, if I have decided to stay in JP Morgan and pursue a career in Investment Banking, or never leave England. My time at JP Morgan was one of the highlights of my career, I loved my job, I’ve got to travel, explore opportunities, taste the corporate life, I met people with different skills, values and opinions that influenced me and impacted me, some of them even inspired me. I’ve got to know myself better and find out skills I didn’t even know I had, and for all of that and more I will always be thankful. The reasons for leaving were more circumstantial and I wonder how would my life and my family’s life be different today should have I chosen to stay.

Stepping out of the benefits, salary package, contacts, comfort that my job represented was for me an Indiana Jones moment, stepping into the unknown believing that the the solid Rock-bridge will appear under my feet.

As a result I have discovered what “career” really means to me and the “vocation” I want to develop, what the team, organization needs to look like, what are the values that need to be held and the behavours that need to be demonstrated. Respect, safety, integration of ideas & personalities, a strong focus on promoting internal talent and develop the team to its full capability, motivating, growing and grooming everyone to create great products or services that add value and remain competitive in an ever changing market.

How do we demonstrate respect internally in our organisations, in our interactions with colleagues? How are all these values demonstrated, what are the behaviours shown, what is the language used, and the actions that support a culture of  respect and integration, how we make others feel and how we set others for success or failure?

Maybe is here were you have to have a leap of faith and “Be the change you want to see in your organisation” Mahatma Gandhi, be the catalyst that ignites a culture of inclusiveness,  influence others to represent a culture to be proud of. The way in which we make decisions and implement changes has a direct impact on those around us, a 3D approach need to be implemented because our decisions and actions have an impact on others.

Only when we step out in faith into the unknown, to cross some great abyss, does that solid Rock-bridge beneath our feet appear. In retrospect I am happy I took a leap of faith leaving my job and England, this was not the first or last bridge I will have to believe exist. With each bridge I become a more confident, more defined person.

Which leap of faith have you taken or would like to take?

Olga

Influence, Reputation and Power

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“In the quantum world, relationship is the key determiner of everything…there is increasing support for his [James Lovelock] hypothesis that the earth is a self-regulating system, a planetary community of interdependent systems that together create the conditions which make life possible.” By Margaret Wheatley

Power can have a negative connotation attached to it, however, all human relationships are based on power (the ability to influence the actions of other people). This is particularly true for business, whether you run your own business, lead a team or are the president of the school committee. The truth is power is a neutral term, one can use it for good or ill.

In a growing business it is necessary to accomplish everything we set up to do and there is nothing wrong with seeking to increase your power, as long as the rights of other people are respected. Most of us rely on power to get things done. Robert Greene in The 48 Laws of Power, argues that no one is completely exempt for dealing with others, which inevitably involves Power.

According to Josh Kaufman, the use of Power typically takes one of two forms:

– Influence, the ability to encourage someone else to want what you suggest

– Compulsion, the ability to force someone else to do what you command

Much has been written about Influencing skills, Dale Carnegie author of How to win friends and influence people says that “The deepest craving in human nature is the craving to be appreciated”. Dr. Robert Cialdini in his great book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion tell us about a Harvard University experiment conducted by Ellen Langer, where people providing a reason for jumping the photocopier’s cue where 95% successful, using a reason as lame as “because”. Humans are predisposed to look for behavioural causes. People will be more receptive to any request if you give them a reason. Any reason will do.

Charles Schwab an American steel magnate who lead Bethlehem Steel to became the second largest steel maker in the United States, and one of the most important heavy manufacturers in the world said “The best way to develop the best that is in a person is through appreciation and encouragement”. Providing a safe environment and making people feel appreciated and important are key elements to influence others in the your organisation, team, or your social interactions. Showing Appreciation (expressing your gratitude for what others are doing for you, even if it’s not quite perfect, Courtesy (politeness, pure and simple “accepting small inconveniences on behalf of another person”), Respect (honoring the other person’s status no matter if lower or higher than yours).

If you treat people with Appreciation, Courtesy and Respect in all circumstances, people will feel safe, important and you will be able to influence and persuade others to do what needs to be done.

Promoting a safer workplace with room for appreciation!

OC

Go & Grow

Stitched Panorama

Growth is important to me, it provides meaning, the opportunity to improve, re-evaluate ideas, concepts and become a bigger person. It is, according to research an important part of happiness, is described in The Happiness Project as one of the elements that makes Gretchen and many others happier.

Reading, learning a new skill, having a robust conversation, listening to a Ted Talk, are different ways in which we can strive to grow and develop. What do we do with these ideas, skills, learnings, defines the level of satisfaction. An oyster takes a piece of dirt, rolls it around a few times, and fashions it into a pearl. This is described as “personal alchemy” by Robert Holden in his amazing book “Shift happens”.

Patience, resilience and constancy are some of the skills that I am trying to develop to provide the levels of effectiveness and productivity that will take me to feel I accomplish, finish and practice. I want to practice with determination, putting into action some of the ideas, concepts and projects that are developed as a consequence of a moment of inspiration from something I read, I heard or seen.

The purpose is to create a more fulfilling life, reconnect with my inner wisdom, be more in touch with life, joy and love. This is about happiness for me and those around me. One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make others happy and one of the best ways to make others happy is to be happy. Taking into account that the only person I can change is myself. I will strive to create, first of all, a happy life within, and in the process impact my kids, my husband and those close to me. Saint Therese of Lisieux said, “I take care to appear happy and especially to be so”. Happiness takes energy and discipline, keeping my resolutions is my first step towards that more full filed, joyful, happy life.

Being a time poor individual, prioritisation is a must, where to start and getting started. I have chosen my starting areas as:

1- Develop my personal alchemy

2- Choose the highest thought

3- Willingness inspires readiness

4- Sign up rather than wait for the right sign

5- To make footprints “I was here”

6- To own less

7- To be a heaven

8- Staying open all hours for miracles

9- Exercises a “Signature Strength”

10- Create shinny eyes around me

Where would you start? What do you want to create? and what is your purpose for today, this month, this year, this life?

Being purposeful.

OC

People Join Organisations but Leave Managers

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The reasons for taking a particular job are strongly influenced by the brand and reputation of an organisation. People accept a job because of how they perceive the organisation. However, when the time comes to leave, studies now show that it is often their manager and the leadership that they are leaving, not the organisation. So why do people join an organisation but leave their managers and how can leadership change this?

What we know is that in many instances, when a person leaves and organisation they do so because of external factors that are linked to a particular issue within their team and/or manager. Influencing those “external factors” needs time and effort, and in many cases doesn’t bring the results you were hoping for, leaving you frustrated and deflated. By changing our focus from problem solving to solution centric, create initiatives to retain top talent and be the change we want to see in our team, we can work towards preventive measures.

When managers and leaders change their perspective and look for factors they can actually influence, they start to look at the possibility, not the problem. By changing their perspective managers can look at the opportunity to positively influence and improve the overall performance, mood and essentially influence the results of the team. It is during the practice of this behavioural exercise that people come face to face with factors that are within their control, mainly because it is up to them to modify or change their own outlook and behaviour.

Modifying the behaviour that takes you from the “Why Not” (reasons that make it difficult or get in the way) to the “Why Yes” (what is in my control and reach that I can influence) is one of the most liberating behavioural exercises. As a team we can come out with actions that will change the course of our results, the level of team engagement and the retention of top talent.

In most instances management and teams know what the problem is and consequently spend most of their time and energy discussing the problem, leaving the solution to last when energy and clear thinking is not at their peak. By the time we get to the solution, the energy has been otherwise invested and staff and employees are already emotionally switched off and disengaged. It is therefore how we manage time, energy and focal point that ultimately has a strong impact in the results we achieve and the results we achieve motivate us to stay and work for an influential leader.

Greg Savage has spoken about this topic from his experience in the recruitment industry in this article.

Stephen Covey often speaks of “starting with the end in mind”, I often push my team to “start with the solution in mind”?

How would you motivate your team to be solution centric?