Archive for May, 2010

Finding a ‘deeper’ purpose

Posted: May 28, 2010 in articles

Yesterday a friend of mine recounted a dream he had last

deep ocean

deep ocean

night where I sat him down and challenged him on finding his ‘deeper purpose’. I was fascinated by his ‘nocturnal’ encounter with these words. In his dream he was unsure about what it was which meant he was not able to respond to my continual quest for clarity from him. I told him he needs to discover his deeper ‘inner vibe!’ and be connected with why he was doing what he was doing. Eventually I sent him up a hill with a journal and pen to journal what he thought this ‘deeper purpose’ could be. After a period of reflection he came up with some answers.

The person who I am referring to, in my opinion, is pretty connected to why he does what he does. In fact, I would say he has an array of questions and statements which he reminds himself off constantly. Words like purpose, vision and values form a part of his weekly speak. Yet the question in the dream challenged him. As we spent time discussing the dream I realised it challenged me too! The reason was that one word: deeper.

What is that deeper purpose for you? What is that ‘why’ that runs through your veins, is ingrained in your DNA and that connects you powerfully with how you live your life? What is it that you feel so powerfully about which runs as deep as the oceans within your soul?

The timing of this discussion was impeccable. My challenge lately is to continuously remind myself of the ‘why’ rather than to become too focussed on the ‘what’ and the ‘how.’ When this ‘why’ is not clear I look back over a week and wonder how much of what I have done has been effective. The disciplines which are NB to me such as times of quiet and solitude go out the window. When I focus on my ‘why’ I can clearly see which of my actions have substance and color. Those actions feel rewarding and energising rather then empty and fruitless.

The point is we both realised we would like to be able to articulate that ‘deeper purpose’ off the cuff. If we have to journal on the hillside to find it out it probably means we are not going to be able to call on it in the moment. Thats where it counts!

How many of your actions have purpose behind them?


Un-Limit your limiting beliefs

Posted: May 20, 2010 in articles

Between the ages of 0 – 7 we receive over 24 000 hours of programming!



We all know the little ones we share homes with suck in information like a sponge. Young kids seem to soak in each and every bit of information or influence that comes their way. As they consciously engage with their surroundings, each little individual begins to shape a set of beliefs which will inform the way in which they live. Experiences both positive and negative will sit in the sub conscious storage department.

As we grow older our conscious choices are influenced by those sub conscious beliefs. Most faith based messages or self help advice roots down to working with what you think – a renewing of the mind.

I gave blood when I was young. They only needed a vile, yet the factors surrounding the ‘blood removal’ freaked me out and sent me into a black out right there in the doctors room.  That was it – a limiting belief! I can’t give blood. The blood bank would roll into school with its worthy message of the need to donate. But each time I stood up to do my part, my sub conscious reminded me of that fateful day. I sat back down.

Paul Potts, winner of Britain’s got talent a few years back, speaks about how it took him an hour to click on ‘submit’ after filling in his online application form to enter the show. He notes that confidence has always been an issue for him. His belief was that he did not have a great deal to offer those around him because of how he looked and who he thought he was. The temptation was to just continue selling cell phones rather than reveal his talent to the world.

Which begs the question – what beliefs limit you? As I work with people I uncover limiting beliefs such as ‘I can’t speak my truth, hand over responsibility, love unconditionally, get my drivers license, take time off, start that sport, take that risk.’ It seems as we mature we simply develop more reasons why we should remain in our comfort zones.

Comfort Zone? That place where our fears sleep unchallenged. Paul selling mobile phones. Beneath those fears is a deep ocean of potential. What would happen if you had to dive in? I broke my blood fear by giving blood. Paul broke his limiting belief by getting on the stage. Look fear straight in the eye and take it on. Paul now touches millions of lives every day with his music and his story.

Un-Limiting your beliefs is not just about you but about the impact your potential can make on the world around you. The world wants the best of you.

Start Un-Limiting!

“Ok, so we get we need to lead but we actually don’t have the time!”

time to lead?

time to lead?

was the opening statement made at this weeks leadership forum. Once again, rather than focusing on the answer we need ask the right questions. To often we make decisions off the base of assumption rather than awareness.

Question 1: What robs you of the time that you need to lead?

“Issues!” is the response.  I immediately draw a line across the centre of a flip chart page when I hear that word. On the top of the line I put a whole lot of x’s. Each x represents an issue – absenteeism, lack of productivity, demotivated staff, negativity etc. These are ‘above the line’ issues.

Question 2: How do you deal with these issues?

“We give warnings. We discipline. The latecomer is told not to be late and the demotivated is told to jack themselves up.” Problem solved – but for how long?

Question 3: How often do you found these same issues reoccurring despite your actions?

“Yes…” is always the answer. The crux here is that what we do to resolve these issues only offer short term solutions. The issues simply repeat themselves, managers ‘fight fires’ continuously which robs them of their time.

Question 4: What causes these issues?

Our answers are usually assumptions. Words that stem from the mouths of weary and worn out managers, returning home from the battlefield each day where it is a fight to get people just to fulfill their basic functions. Those tired minds, often resentful, toward their people begin to assume why these issues arise. Most often they are very off the mark.

Question 5: What difference would it make If you committed time and energy uncovering and dealing with the cause?

In the flip chart I place a large X below the line drawn across the middle. From that X I draw several lines pointing back toward the little x’s on the top of the line. Most often 1 ‘below the line’ cause stimulates several ‘above the line’ issues. Now it’s time to be frank about the illogical logic. Our time is swallowed up by all the issues, yet if we were to take the time to deal with below the line cause, many of the issues would be removed – sustainably. Which in turn then – would grant us more time.

We would have less issues. We would have more time. Most importantly, we would have more space to lead.

Place of Possibility

Posted: May 6, 2010 in articles

Yesterday 06h10 I boarded a flight to Cape Town.

boarding SAA early morning

boarding SAA early morning

Upon arrival I entered into their brand new airport and was just amazed at how fantastic everything was looking. I had this feeling of contentment and peace for the future of South Africa as I watched the people around me and ordered my Vide coffee.  There were people everywhere, an absolute buzz.

A few years ago, Benjamin Zander challenged me in his talk on possibility.  He spoke about the two options we have in every moment of the day. Option number 1 was what he termed ‘negative downward spirals’.  These spirals pull ourselves and those around us downward emotionally. At the bottom of this spiral it is pretty much impossible to maintain any level of healthy perspective which reflects in your actions. Option number 2 is a much more attractive option. It is to stand in the ‘place of possibility’.

Standing in the place of possibility is what we most need to do. It is also what we are least likely to do. In fact, we seem to have our default setting at negativity. Finding Possibilities means we need to train ourselves to engage with two disciplines at any time.

Firstly – creating space. We actually do have time despite what people may think. Even a couple of seconds represents time and sometimes that is all that we need. All of us have stimulas or triggers which immediately set off that negativity in our minds. It could be the morning traffic, something our spouse does or that manager at work. We seem to react to it every time and end up feeling negative and heavy in a matter of seconds. What we don’t do is open up some space just after that trigger to make a conscious decision to stand in the place of possibility. Create space right upfront which gives you the opportunity to engage with the second discipline – asking great questions.

Many people are looking for answers – few are asking great questions. In that moment -post stimulas – great questions can save you from negative downward spirals. Watch what happens as you answer questions such as:

How is my negativity going to help this situation?
If I let myself go now, what does it mean for the rest of my day?

Followed by a critical question that swings us away from those spirals into the place of possibility.

‘What is possible right now?’

What you’ve done is stopped the downward flow of negativity and opened up possibilities. It will happen quicker than you think! Everything that we encounter has two sides to it – one positive and one negative.  Your alignment to either side determines your actions and in many ways your future.

Thankfully you have a choice. I hope you choose to stand in the place of possibility.

‘On December 22, 1984, the saturday before Christmas,

manhattan skyline New York (Henri Silberman)

manhattan skyline New York (Henri Silberman)

Bernhard Goetz left his apartment on Manhattan’s Greenwich Village & waked to the IRT subway station at 14th street and 7th avenue… At the station he boarded the number 2 downtown express train and sat down next to 4 young black teenagers… Canty, and another one of the teenagers, Barry Allen, walked up to Goetz and asked him for $5. “What do you want?” Goetz asked. “Give me $5,” Canty repeated… Goetz reached into his pocket and pulled out a chrome-plated five-shot Smith and Wesson .38, firing at each of the 4 youths in turn. As the 4th member of the crew, Darrel Cabey, lay screaming on the ground, Goetz walked over to him and said, “You seem all right. Here’s another” before firing a 5th bullet into Cabey’s spinal cord and paralysing him for life. (Malcom Gladwell – The Tipping Point)

The story continues, ‘On the radio call-in shows and in the streets, he was treated as a hero…’

Wow – wasn’t a hero in my mind when I read that. So what was going on?

The Goetz case was during a very dark period in New York.  Crime had reached epidemic proportions. During the 80’s New York averaged well over 2000 murders and 600 000 serious felonies a year. The underground system was described as ‘chaotic’. Goetz would have waited on a dimly lit platform. He would have been aware of the high crime situation. There was heavy graffiti on the walls, the floors littered with trash. Frequent fires meant trains were delayed. ‘Red Tape’ areas meant travel was slow. There were 15000 felonies on the train’s alone per annum which even led to the lowest ridership in the history of the subway station.

What struck me was how all of a sudden my perspective shifted. His act was a result of negative influences repeating themselves day after day. Goetz eventually broke. The result was tragic.

It is critical that we deal regularly with our thoughts and feelings. I am often amazed at the lengthy history behind issues that I work with in teams. Insignificant events often cause significant conflicts, catalysts of harbored emotions never dealt with.

Right now, in our country’s climate, we need to talk. Right now, in our organisations climate, we need to talk. No matter what the climate dialogue is critical!  The most significant gift we can give each other is honesty and objective discussion.

Carly Fiorina, ex CEO of HP, speaks about dealing with change and crisis in organisations.  She says if you think you have communicated enough with your teams during these times, you need to communicate 10x more than what you’ve done!

Goetz is no different to us. He acted off a platform off frustration. We are not exempt from that place.

My challenge might be yours. Where (family, organisation, social circles etc) do I need to increase dialogue?

What do you believe in?

Posted: May 6, 2010 in articles

Last week I had one of those moments.

daily star tabloid

daily star tabloid

The morning started out with a discussion about South Africa, and in particular Malema.  It was an objective discussion, given the people I was with. Then turning on my computer I was met with a very disturbing article written and published in the UK tabloid – Daily Star.

This article described our country as a ‘land of murder’ and told 2010 World Cup visitors to expect a ‘blood bath.’ It went on to paint a picture of racial tension, black on white – a civil war. I reflected on it yesterday again when I arrived at my flat. As I got out my car a black man was walking down the street talking on his phone. When he saw me, he took the phone away from his ear, looked me in the eyes and greeted me with a huge smile.


I immediately wrote an email and sent to my UK mates. I urged them to communicate to their friends the falseness of the content of these articles. I asked them to stand up for this country, and to speak against the negativity.

The article and the replies really isn’t the focus. Daily Star is just one of many print mediums that publish opinions, albeit completely out of context.  Daily, we are met with information that we have to process.  The fact is, the event happened a few days after a moment that I had in quiet where I felt a question drop into my heart and mind.

What do you believe in?

Many leaders are not clear what the answer to this question is. The fact is, no matter what the subject, there are so many sound and objective ‘point of views.’ Leaders often find themselves at critical junctions where they need to make a call – a decision. There may be a number of right options, each a degree off each other. But where is your gut leading. How can the convictions inside of you point the situation in a direction? Your positioning is not a mistake. You are where you are, because of what you feel, who you are and what you can bring to the contexts you lead within. For many of us though – we choose to remain neutral and tight lipped, avoiding conflict and tension which is a natural part of any process of change or progression.

I have had to challenge myself, daily, to have the courage to speak up on what I believe, what I feel. I find it incredibly difficult, yet hugely rewarding. I have had to learn to trust myself. I have had to understand that it may not make sense in the moment, but that it will make sense in the long term.

I have had to learn – finally – that silence simply gives voice to the motives and message of those who do have the courage to speak – no matter what their message.

Sweetness of Engagement

Posted: May 6, 2010 in articles

Every week I facilitate workshops in the corporate arena.

Appletree's 3 circles

Appletree's 3 circles

Have a look at the 3 circles image which is attached.The crux is the ‘True You’ circle is in many ways unexplored.   Funny, that it is in this circle where we find so many of the answers to the challenges we face as leaders.

The ‘way of the team’ is about the organisations values, vision, mission etc. An organisation will then need people (employees) to fulfill their professional rolls and deliver on what is needed to make an organisation thrive. The ‘professional you’ circle is thus about business models, systems, process and need IQ based skill an individual needs to perform.

Continually, studies reveal that engagement levels within organisations are as low as 20%. An Engaged employee could be described as productive, committed, effective, motivated, energised and innovative. They go ‘the extra mile.’ A further 60% are disengaged. They share productivity and commitment with the engaged, however are low in energy, motivation and creativity. In many ways, disengaged employees are there to pick up the pay check and will do the bear minimum of what is expected of them. Actively disengaged are those who work for you, yet work against you! Passionately, they spread negativity recruiting members into their cause.

Engagement is critical. Disengagement costs! (recent USA survey revealed disengaged costs the economy $300Billion annually!) Given this, many organisations are asking how to engaged their staff. We at Appletree believe it starts with the True You. Our process is one of uncovering the individuals ‘True You’ and aligning the 3 circles.  Thats where the sweet spot exists!

I am continually amazed as the results of this alignment. All it takes is for individuals to raise their level of awareness and connect with how who they are and what they stand for, can be expressed through the functional side of what they do (professional you) and therefore impact an organisation.  Individuals and even teams who align what they stand for with the organisations mission lay a platform for sustainable engagement.

People desire to know that they are contributing with their strengths and talents into something greater than themselves.  Engagement goes hand in hand with self motivation and drive, stimulating creativity and energising a workforce. Every organisation has the opportunity to provide a platform for people to thrive!

The question we always ask is, ‘Are your people simply bringing their hands and feet to work or their hearts and souls?’ ‘Are you bringing your hands and feet to work or your heart and soul?

Have a closer look at the 3 circles, think about it and look at how it could apply to your own lives or your teams and business. Refer to for more info and updates on the challenging yet rewarding topic of engagement. I will write more on this in the next few weeks.